Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Almost Job


Things have been all kinds of crazy up in here lately, and while I have been reading, it’s been SLOOOOOOW GOOOOOING.  A little background on why.

A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I started (merely started!) the conversation about Sarah Returns to Work:  The Sequel.  (I’ve been at home with the kids for six years now.  Before that, I taught school.)  We began fighting talking about things like after-school childcare and how my salary would have to offset the cost of that and how Mike would have to cook half of the time and when would I get to exercise and which days Mike would have to go to work early so he could get home early enough to pick up kids at 3:10 and who would do the karate carpool and and and and AND.  

And then.  Almost immediately there was this fabulous job listing I saw, by chance, on Facebook, of all places, and I realized that I was completely qualified for it.  It seemed fun, and nearby, with good pay and even better hours (Fridays off – HOLLA), and creative, and most importantly NOT TEACHING. 

So I wrote a letter and sent the guy my (pathetically outdated) resume, and he wrote me back, like, immediately.  Like within the half hour.  And the next day, I had an interview.

Next I had a second interview, and then a third.  And I nailed them all.  Not to mention, all my interview outfits were killer.  Plus, I got Iris into a five-day Pre-K program nearby and had even found childcare to pick her up each day.  All things were aligning, and on my Magic Eight ball, all signs pointed to YES. 

So I started getting really excited. 

(An aside:  Prior to this experience, I have never actually wanted to go back to work.  Never.  In fact, for six years, the idea, the mere mention of returning to a job has made me feel physically nauseous.  I’ve loved being at home, and my number one motivation in returning to work has always been financial.  So this feeling of possibility, of real-live actual excitement, was unprecedented and completely unexpected.  I wanted this job.  All of a sudden, I really wanted this job.)

The next day they called.  I didn’t get it.

(In the midst of this, there were the end-of-summer blues.  The kids were making me crazy what with their constant begging for screen time and snacks.  (I am so over snacks.  I feed them three times a day.  THAT SHOULD BE MORE THAN ENOUGH.)  Plus, the bickering.  Over such pivotal issues as You are in my chair and That is my headband and I want the purple cup.  Lord have mercy.  This year, the first day of school was RIGHT IN THE NICK OF TIME.)

(And just for fun, then Mike threw out his back and spent an entire weekend on the couch with a heating pad.  [Note my complete loss for words, here.])

So for a few days, I was . . . existing.  Trying to regroup, trying to see the reason for all this upheaval and confusion and complication.  I know that God has a plan for me, and it doesn’t always jive with my own plan; I know that the entire freaking country is getting job rejections; I know that I’m lucky that we have food on our table and school supplies in the backpacks and air-conditioning in our home . . . but none of this makes disappointment easier to bear.  So all I could do was pray.  Pray that despair wouldn’t take over.  And I’m doing better now, I really am.  There are possibilities on the horizon.  I know this.  I’m just trying to remember it. 

I guess this is a long-winded explanation of what’s been going on in my life that has nothing to do with reading.  I did read Alice Sebold’s The Almost Moon, and when I saw it on the shelf at Half Price Books my initial reaction was “Hey!  Why didn’t anyone tell me Alice Sebold wrote another book!  I’ve been waiting for this for years!”  (I loved Lucky, and I really really really loved The Lovely Bones.)  However, apparently I’m totally clueless because The Almost Moon was actually published in 2007 (uh, hello?).  So I’m about five years late to the party, which is pretty typical.  Anyway, here’s my assessment:  Bleh.  Yep, that’s about it.  I mean, it’s about a lady who murders her demented mother (and by “demented” I mean it in the literal way, as in suffers from dementia, as opposed to meaning it in the Gothic way, as in It puts the lotion in the basket and A boy’s best friend is his mother and Redrum!), stuffs her in the basement freezer, and then seduces her best friend’s son in the front seat of her car.  Good times.  Bleh.

However, there are positive things going on, too, I promise.  For example, here’s what happens when school starts.  I have time to do something other than divvy out goldfish crackers into specifically-requested colored plastic cups. 

(It is no coincidence that I finished this dress the very first day the children were gone at school, as I’m sure you are aware.)  The pattern is from the book Simple Modern Sewing, and I must note here that whoever came up with the first word of the title is full of bullshit.  But the dress turned out cool, I think.  And I learned how to do a facing!  And darts!  Stop the madness.

Also, I’ve discovered This American Life.  (See also:  Five years late to the party.  Or twenty, in this case.)  More importantly, I got the TAL app and it’s the best $2.99 I’ve spent all summer.

And finally, in other, happier reading news, Eloise has discovered Harry Potter.  And she is in love. 

She read the first book in one day, and then devoured the next two later that same week.  And at the risk of sounding completely cheesy, I have to say that sharing the first movie with her was one of the best nights of parenting, so far.  It was complete magic and sparked so much fun discussion:  “Mom, is that how you pictured Hogwarts?  Because that’s exactly what I thought it would look like!” and “Can you believe how big Hagrid is?  How did they do that?” and “Oh, Mom!  I wish I had a snowy white owl just like Hedwig!” and “I don’t think Hermione’s hair is that frizzy, do you?”  And so on.  Not to mention platform nine and three quarters.  I tell you what, when you’re starting the second grade, the fractions?  NOT SO MUCH.  That shizzle is BLOWING HER MIND. 

But the best quote of the week from Eloise was this: “You know what, Mom?  When I read Harry Potter books, I feel like I’m drowning.  But in a good way.  In a way where I just can’t think of anything else.  I’m just that interested in it.”

I know.  I feel the same way.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Real Quick Like

I’m in the middle of back-to-school preparations (and in the middle of B*G’s third season), so there’s not much time, but I wanted to share a couple of new finds.

To start, allow me to explain my usual M.O. for novel procurement:

1) Go to Barnes and Noble and peruse the New Release section, followed by the Fiction and Literature section, followed by the Children’s section, followed by the Sale section.

2) Make a list of titles I want to read.

3) Return home and request all titles via my online library queue.

4) Wait patiently.

On the other hand, this is my procedure for Tana French books:

1) Go to Barnes and Noble on the day her new novel is released in hardback.

2) Purchase it at full price.

(Perhaps a full understanding of how cheap I truly am is required to thoroughly appreciate this explanation.  Just trust me:  Her books are that good.)

Broken Harbor was fantastic, as expected.  I find it rare that a much-anticipated book or movie lives up to my inflated expectations, but French never disappoints.  She produces that most unusual and satisfying of crime thrillers – the kind so twisted and complex that you can never figure them out in advance of the characters.  Instead, she hooks you, and then keeps surprising you.  And her characters are so well-drawn, the prose so energetic and natural, the setting and mood so beautifully creepy, that I honestly can’t think of a new(ish) author I enjoy more.

And now something for the little ones.  Eloise has been devouring The Sisters Eight series all summer.

We stumbled upon these on the shelf at the local library, and she decided to give them a try.  They have turned out to be her favorite self-read novels to date.  I, of course, am always thrilled when she finds something outside of her established Magic Tree House-Junie B. Jones-Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew trifecta.  These books are even more exciting, because they seem to fill the gap I’ve been worrying about – the one in between the first, easy chapter readers with snappy plots, easy vocabulary, and plenty of pictures (Junie B., for example), and the later, more advanced works with more complicated situations and dialogues, more advanced emotional issues, and fewer pictures (Beverly Cleary).  Does that make sense?  (Have you noticed the gap there as well?  Because I’ve been struggling to bridge it all last school year, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.)  Anyway, The Sisters Eight books are a little longer than first chapter readers, but still have a few pictures, to keep the wee ones happy.  And the writing and vocabulary are markedly more interesting and complex. 

Plus, the story is cool.  The basic outline is this:  A group of eight sisters (with superpowers, hooray!) work together to solve an ongoing mystery in order to save their mysteriously absent parents.  Anyway, Eloise highly recommends them, and the final installment in the series releases today! 

In closing, I leave you with this, from my number one fan and dear friend Wendy: