Obviously I think that blogging and other forms of virtual life (Facebook, Pinterest...) are worthwhile or I wouldn't spend time on them. I just need to remind myself from time to time that my virtual life should not interfere with my real life. At least not to the point where I'm interrupting my real life to update my virtual life.
I want to make sure that when I'm spending time with people, I'm really spending time with them by giving them my full attention. There are definitely times that I've not done this and have had to be reminded by Andrew to pay attention to what's going on in real life instead of virtual life.
I need to remember what my virtual life is about.
Blogging is about connecting with people and reading other bloggers' opinions about life, faith, art, food, fashion, and all kinds of other topics.
Facebook is about connecting with people that I would otherwise have a hard time staying connected with. (I just read a really interesting blog post about how to delete half of your Facebook "friends" which I think makes some valid points, though I'm not sure that I'm ready to delete people quite yet...)
Pinterest is about having a place to store all of the ideas I find on blogs and want to remember, be able to find later, or try cooking/making/etc. At the moment, Pinterest is the most addictive to me because it's new and easy to use and because there are always more ideas out there to pin;)
Have you read the 2,000 hours blog yet? It's a blog that's written by Charles Ripley who is a high school English teacher who just finished his 5th year of teaching and is concerned about the number of teachers that get burned out in 5 years or less. He describes his blog by writing, "2,000 Hours is a blog with a single purpose. I'm going to record every hour of work I do as a teacher for the next year. I hope to change misconceptions about teachers in America by doing so." It's a fabulous blog that you should definitely check out, especially if you have concerns about the number of hours teachers work.
I was mentioned on his blog because I wrote a comment telling him how much I liked The Hunger Games series and asking for suggestions of dystopian literature. You can read his post here. I like the concept of his blog because I know that I spend a lot more time working than I'm paid for. I've started documenting my hours at the beginning of this summer. So far I'm up to 25 hours and 25 minutes.
I feel like all I've been posting on here lately have been book and movie reviews, but that's because that's most of what I've been doing with my time this summer. I promise I'll post about something other than books. Eventually.
I don't usually read books simply because everyone else is reading them. I usually have to have another reason to read them, either that they interest me or they've been highly recommended. Part of my resistance to popular books is because there are many of them that end up as series of books. And I am not the type to read only one book of a series.
So I resisted reading the Harry Potter series, but ended up reading the first one and then the rest of them when a friend dared me to read the first one and not like it. I read it and liked the concept, though I thought the writing could have been much better. My husband will tell you that one of my biggest complaints with the Harry Potter books is that the first few all started the same way - with Harry and friends going back to Hogwarts and waiting around until the action started, usually around or just after Halloween. That's not to say that I haven't been swayed by the series. I have read all of the books and seen all of the movies. I'm actually going to see my first and only midnight showing of a Harry Potter movie for the last one.
I resisted reading the Twilight books until some friends convinced me to go see the movie with them and I usually try to read the book before seeing the movie. I read it and liked it enough to read the rest of the books. The main thing that kept me reading the Twilight books was the love triangle. I think they're basically like romance novels for young adults - there's not a lot of substance to them other than the relationship between the characters. The writing is definitely not very good (she uses the same descriptions over and over again) and neither are the characters. Bella basically spends all of the books waiting around for either Edward or Jacob to save her and doesn't seem to have much going for her on her own.
Which brings me to The Hunger Games books. I had several friends that highly recommended them. I didn't know much about them and I didn't really resist reading them because I had heard such good things about them. I read the first book and was hooked. I could not put it down. I thought the concept was really interesting. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic society that is made up of a capital and twelve surrounding districts. To keep the districts under their control and to remind the citizens of what happens when they fight each other, the capital created the hunger games. Each year, a boy and a girl are chosen from each district, placed in an arena, and forced to fight to the death until only one remains. I thought that the idea of the hunger games alone was enough to keep most people reading, especially in a time where the majority of our entertainment involves either competition or violence.
The main character, Katniss Everdeen, is really well written. She's witty, sarcastic, and completely believable. She has definite faults, but there's something about her (probably her fierce love for her family and her sense of justice) that kept me liking her. The other characters were just as intriguing as Katniss. I got the sense that I could have heard parts of the story told from any of the character's point of views and found it just as intriguing.
The overall plot was interesting. There were several plot twists and I didn't see most of them coming. There were even a few that had me completely in awe about what was going on. The one complaint I had with the series was the way the plot tended to jump around and left me having to figure out what was going on, though this mostly happened when one of the characters had been injured and had spent some time in the hospital or unconscious I thought it was done too many times.
I would definitely recommend these books. They were interesting and definitely brought up some good themes such as government control, violence for violence's sake, and maintaining a sense of justice during war.
One of the books I'm planning on teaching next year is Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji. (I reviewed the book in this post.) I found a unit that another teacher had done that focused on middle eastern culture. It includes Rooftops of Tehran and several other books and movies that I hadn't read or watched. One of the movies is Persepolis, which is baesd on the graphic novel of the same name by Marjane Satrapi. The book/movie have been on my to read/watch list for a long time so I decided to check them out.
I started with the book. I gave it a a chance. I read for about twenty minutes and managed to decide that it was not a book that I would be able to teach. There are way too many topics that are covered for me to be able to do them all justice.
Since I knew I wouldn't be teaching the book, I moved on to the movie. I figured that it might be easier for my students to understand and would better hold their attention. I did enjoy the fact that the movie was in French because I think it's so pretty to listen to, but I know that it's really hard to get my students interested in a movie that has subtitles. Since I figured I wouldn't be using the movie for class either, I decided to watch it and see what I thought of it. I did find it interesting, but there were parts of it that I found really hard to follow, particularly trying to keep some of the characters straight because the movie was mostly in black and white so the characters had little distinction from one another. I also thought there were parts of the movie that were way too strange. The grandma was really blunt and opinionated, but there were several times when she talked about putting jasmine blossoms in her bra so that she would smell good. Definitely something you wouldn't expect a grandma to be saying to her granddaughter. The parts of the plot that dealt with the revolution and regime changes were glossed over in some parts and in others given such extreme detail that it was hard to follow.
Overall, I like the concept of the book and movie much more than the actual book and movie. I would not watch the movie again and I would not recommend it.
I went to see Transformers 3 with my husband and some friends last night and was reminded of my main criticism of the Transformers movies. The cussing. There are parts of the movie where the characters end up cussing when it seems like they don't need to. I understand having some cussing to show the character's frustration or surprise, but there are parts when they could easily substitute another word for a cuss word but choose to include the cuss word instead. There are even some instances when they leave out the cuss word, but still imply them, saying things like "mother..." or "cluster..." and letting the audience fill in the cuss words themselves. Maybe I'm just more sensitive since I'm around students that cuss all the time and have to remind them to watch their language all the time, but the cussing in the Transformers movies seems unnecessary, especially for a PG13 movie.
That said, there are parts of the movies I really like. I like the way that Bumblebee talks by quoting songs, movies, and TV shows. I like the way that Shia LaBeouf's character is intentionally awkward and makes strange faces. And I like that they are movies that my husband and I both enjoy, which means I get to see them with him. Yay!
I follow the blog Tranquility du Jour, which has a monthly book club. The book they're reading during July is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It's a book that has been on my to read list for a long time, especially since I teach a creative writing class at least once a year and the book's subtitle is Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
In the post where she announced that Bird by Bird is the book for July, Tranquility du Jour linked to an article that Anne Lamott wrote about finding time to do whatever it is that you're passionate about. I really enjoyed it and thought that I'd share the link with you too. Here it is!
I am someone who loves holidays! I love the traditions and the decorations and the celebrations as much as, if not more, than the next person. But sometimes that love backfires on me.
Let me explain. Holidays are times when you are expected to have fabulous plans that live up to the expectations that surround whatever that holiday is. For New Year's Eve you're supposed to have fabulous plans that will help you celebrate all that this year has been and ring in the new year. For St. Patrick's Day you're supposed to have fabulous plans to go drinking with all of your friends for no reason other than the fact that it's St. Patrick's Day. For the 4th of July, you're supposed to have fabulous plans to cookout with your family and friends and watch fireworks to celebrate our country and the sacrifices that people have made for it.
So what happens when you don't have fabulous plans for whatever holiday it is? You feel as thought you've failed at that holiday. You've somehow managed not to fully embrace whatever the holiday is because you haven't drank champagne or green beer or watched a parade or whatever it is you were expected to do. And that's crazy. Because your holiday celebration is still a celebration no matter what it involves. So this year, I'm giving myself permission to celebrate the holidays the way I feel like celebrating them. And if that ends up not living up to expectations and being a quiet holiday at home, I'm going to be happy with that because I'm still celebrating the things that are important to me and that's what the holidays are all about.