Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Kindle: a new frontier

Have you heard of Amazon's new electronic reader? I had not until yesterday, when my school's librarian showed me her new purchase. The Kindle allows you to carry around 200+ books at time without any of the weight. Easy to download and cheap to purchase, electronic books may be the new wave of the future. After holding this Kindle device for all of about 30 seconds I found myself utterly coveting it. What might such a tool mean for me? Could I feasibly read five different books at once, wherever I felt like reading them? The prospect was pretty tantalizing, but the pricetag is steep: $399 at the moment. Here is a link to a recent review in the NY Times on its advent.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the new me

Not really that new, actually. Just improved. I am finally reaping the benefits of the iPod, which I know is way overdue. When I was in NYC, I figured out how to dowload a bunch of podcasts from NPR's Poetry Off the Shelf. I did a mini-dance in my car when I plugged it in and out spouted the voice of someone reading and analyzing Frost poems. I can't remember her name, but it was exhilarating to agree and disagree with her while driving to Home Depot on Saturday. You, too, can listen to the magic of the main host, Curtis Fox, reading poems and talking to poets about their work. I just heard him call up Dean Young because he had absolutely no idea what one of his poems meant. My kind of approach.

Wish I had something else exciting to report. I reread and fell in love all over again with John Knowles's A Separate Peace this past weekend. My students were not as excited as I was about the novel, but hopefully they are coming around to it. I am also happy to report that I am reading and really enjoying The Joy Luck Club, which I am teaching in a few weeks. There is time for a few short stories in the meantime. Any favorites out there? Teachable to ninth graders? Would love some suggestions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

the minor accomplishments

Definitely feeling bad about the fact that I did not read a single paragraph of The Joy Luck Club (or any other book) while in New York. I didn't watch any tv either. So what was I doing besides chaperoning 24/7? On the eve of our departure, I am going to create a list of minor personal accomplishments to make myself feel better. Pure exhaustion is going to prevent me from making any truly startling discoveries here:

1) Saw 27 Dresses (twice)

2) Embraced the E and F trains, something I never did when I actually lived here

3) Walked in Central Park on two sunny days

4) Spent five hours in the Metropolitan Museum of Art one day

5) Made time for the one play I really really wanted to see - review above

6) Tried Hot & Sour Soup (were those squid in the soup???? Never mind, don't want to know)

7) Discovered the best cold remedy ever: ginger, green apple juice, lemon, honey, cayenne served up hot hot hot

8) Spent MLK day doing community service at St. Bart's, the church I walked by every single weekday when I lived in New York. It was time.

9) Figured out why everyone loves Brooklyn so much

10) Walked just shy of a million city blocks.

Needless to say, I am a little tired, but in a good way. Time to pack and head home! I miss my books and my classroom.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

nyc update

A day in my chaperoning life:

7:00 a.m.: Rise and Shine. This may sound like a glamorous hour to awake, but it is, in fact, not. Stay tuned.

7:15 a.m.: Coffee coffee coffee. Start checking on interns to make sure they are getting out the door and know the plan for the day.

10:00-12:00: Map out the day. Check in with interns who aren't feeling well (2 at any given time). Discover that I have almost run out of clothes.

12:30 p.m.: First office visit at important non-profit agency. Make fool of self by trying to push my way through a glass reception door that can only be opened on the inside by the receptionist. She did not find this funny. Visited intern who is doing fabulous work. Tried to speak with her supervisor, but supervisor was asleep in her office. Maybe next time.

1:15: Grabbed a quick sandwich at Pret A Manger, where I was amazed at how fast people were eating and talking. I too behaved this way for a time. I hope I don't still.

1:15-2:00 p.m.: Walked 20-30 blocks uptown while on cell phone trying to help another intern locate work materials that she accidentally left in cab. She solved the problem at 1:50 p.m., at which time I popped into a matinee of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming. I'll never get to teach this one, but wouldn't it be something if I could. If you do teach it, write in and brag. The play was amazing.

5:00-7:30 p.m.: Check in with all interns and help them find food.

8:00 p.m.: Find food! Not a hard task in New York.

9:00-11:00 p.m.: Check in on interns, listen to stories about their day, remind them about important events tomorrow, attempt to pry them from cell phones.

11:45 p.m.: Lights out, finally. And this is why 7:00 a.m. hurts!

Notice there is no time to read. But the play today made up for it all. It was, as the NY Times review said, really that good. click here for Ben Brantley's review of The Homecoming.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Room with a View

Writing in from nyc where I'm spending the next three weeks chaperoning students who are interning up here. I seriously think I have the best room in the house! This never happens to me. I love my view. And I love my job. Planning on getting some good reading done while here, although sadly I had to leave most of my books behind at the 11th hour. Ran out of room in the suitcase. No matter, I can think of a few bookstores to visit...

I did finish Elizabeth Berg's The Art of Mending over the weekend, and I am giving it a B/B-. If anyone else has read E Berg and has some thoughts on her writing, I would love to hear them. I really, really wanted to like this book; I did like the ending. Just felt there were too many loose seams throughout.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hitting the stacks

There it is, looming large and filling up my January before it's really even begun. Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. This is my required reading but I cannot bring myself to read it (yet). It would be great if someone - actually, several people - would write in and tell me that I'm only a coffee table's length away from reading the most astonishing work of fiction ever.

Thanks in advance.