Monday, February 25, 2008


I realize that I really like most of the books I read. The problem with this is that after giving glowing reviews to good, and even great work, I have a hard time convincing people when I've read something truly magnificent. I have just read something truly magnificent. Amazingly magnificent. Unbelievably magnificent. Enchantingly magnificent.

I have just read Misfortune by Wesley Stace. Not only is this novel magnificent, it was also Stace's debut novel. He now has a life-long devoted fan. Misfortune takes place in England in the 1800's. A baby, taken from a dying mother during a botched abortion, is left on a trash heap to die. She is picked up by a very rich lord and adopted as the next heir and named Rose. Only, she is a he. Her father, terribly missing his sister, who died at age 5, ignores the baby's genitalia. Her mother, the librarian her father married in order to make her look legitimate (and not adopted) is a fan of an early feminisia poet, named Mary Day, and looks upon this as an experiment to show that gender is a social construct. In the wings, a horrible family, who needs the family fortune which will one day belong to Rose. Only her true identity is discovered, by both herself and her family and things become terribly complicated.

When I picked up this book I thought it would be an adventure book, the story of someone figuring out who they are. However, I was unprepared for the dignity, respect and insight Stace gives the character of Rose. Stace does not acknowledge reading Foucault's The History of Sexuality, but Rose's internal struggle often mirrored that story (The History of Sexuality revolves around the diary of a hermaphrodite in 19th century (maybe 18th) France who eventually kills him/herself because he/she feels alienated, not only from society, but from him/herself). Rose's self-discovery, self-hatred and eventually, self-acceptance are lovingly told. Rose is not someone who should be shunned, but someone who should be admired for the way in which she learns to love and accept who she truly is.

The story itself is remarkable. Once it is discovered that Rose is a he, it is also discovered that she is a bastard, and therefore, not the legitimate heir of the family fortune. At this point, I became a tad bit disappointed because I felt a Tom Jones (the book, not the singer) ending coming. However, Stace threw in such a delightful twist, that I did not mind at all. Although this book is 500 pages, it flew by and I can't wait to pick up Stace's latest book.

Misfortune should be a must read for anyone who has felt like they didn't fit in their own skin. I figure that all of us have felt like that at one time or another. I definitely think this book should be required reading for gender study courses. Stace is an incredibly talented man and I look forward to reading him for years to come.

Snarl for me!

So I'm not great at looking fierce. I tried a snarl in one picture, but it looked ridiculous. Good thing my husband won't really notice anyway.

I awoke to a phone call at 6:30 this morning offering me a 5 hour job. Well, I guess for 5 hours I'd get up. Only, it turned out to only be an hour job. Totally wasted my entire morning though. I hate crap like that. I did manage to go to the gym this afternoon, and, surprise surprise, I've lost more weight. Since I hadn't been in about a month, I figured I would have gained back at least a pound. Nope, I've lost three more pounds. I figure the more I lose now, the less I'll have to lose if I ever get pregnant. Which is another reason why I like to work. I don't spend a lot of time wondering if I'm pregnant when I'm busy trying to control 30 kids. I guess there's the rest of the week.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Who has more fun?

I miss my husband. And while cleaning my bedroom, I realized that I STILL haven't worn my halloween costume for him yet. So I thought I'd try it on and make sure it looked good. What do you think? With or without the mask?
I've never had black hair, or long hair, for that matter. I've had ever other color, but never black. It doesn't look as bad as I thought it would. And now, I kind of want long hair, only my hair is so thin, it would never look this good. I guess a girl can dream.

I can't wait for my husband to get home.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I usually sign up for my subbing positions on-line. They have a nice little page that shows all the jobs available, which schools, which subjects, which hours, which days and you just pick what you want. This usually works out very well, but every now and then a school will move you around to a different job. This usually (what's another word for usually?) is no big deal. Today, it was a big deal. They put me in special ed.

I don't take special ed jobs for a reason. They're really, really hard, and I don't mean work wise. They're hard emotionally. You spend time with some of the nicest, friendliest, funniest, and huggiest kids ever, but you know that this is it for them. Out of the 8 kids in the class, maybe 4 of them would ever be able to work ANY type of job, and this was the highest level of special ed. The other four, not a chance. One of the students, a girl with autism, broke my heart. They said she had been able speak, interact, read a little and now, nothing. She spent the day wandering in circles, grabbing things and putting them in her mouth. She had totally regressed. It was so sad, like she was looking for something, but she didn't know what, or how to communicate with even herself. The whole situation made me think of IQ.

IQ had the flu a couple weeks ago. I took her to the doctor and one of the things they told her was to not use Q-tips to clean out her ears. We all know that, we just all ignore it. I mean, it says not to clean you ears with them right on the box. Anyway, I told her that I used them anyways. Her reply: if the ob/gyn told me not to use them, then I won't use them because it must hurt the baby. How is this woman going to raise a baby? I finally realized today, for the first time, that I may, someday, have to call CPS on her. That would upset me so much, because of IQ's history (she grew up in foster care) but if she can't take care of the baby, what choice do I have? I guess right now the only thing I can do is hope and pray.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Back to reality

After the kidnapping, robbery, marriage, bombs, beatings, drug addiction and blackmailing of the last book I read, I decided I needed something more realistic. I read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I missed out on reading Tolkien when I was a kid. I read the Chronicles of Narnia but that was the extent of my fantasy reading. My husband loves Tolkien, so I thought I'd give it a spin. Boy, did I miss out! I loved this book! While I felt like the book would be a great kid's book, I didn't feel like I was reading a kid's book. I would recommend this book to anyone.

The story itself is rather simple. A stay-at-home type of hobbit decides it's time for an adventure and joins thirteen dwarves in trying to reclaim their gold from a dragon. While the story is simple, the writing is amazing. Tolkien's writing is clear and simple itself, but it is also interesting. When a character mentions other stories or adventures, as a reader, I just went, yes, yes, tell me about that, I want to know! I could have read this story forever, instead, it was so well written, it took about three days. I now declare myself a Tolkien fan and will read the rest of his work. I also look forward to getting Wes's kids to read them and hopefully, someday, my own kids.

During the time when I couldn't hide in middle earth, Wes's dad was here all week and I worked quite a bit. There's nothing romantic about having a valentine's dinner with your father-in-law and your husband. Now, everyone is gone, the house is a mess, and I'm still working a lot. Again, it will be a miracle if a baby was conceived this month (ok, I mean in this house, not in the general public). If you think having your father-in-law at your valentine's dinner isn't romantic, think about having sex with him sleeping directly underneath your bedroom. Oh yeah, let the sexy times roll.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Russian Concubine

A friend sent me this book, The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall, because it kind of reminded her of our trip to Russia. She did mention that it was not "serious" literature, but a good, easy read. Since I had just finished reading a book, I thought, why not?

In this book, a family of Russians flee the Bolshevik revolution. They travel to China, but along the way, they are stopped by Bolsheviks and the husband is killed. The mom, Valentina and her daughter, Lydia, make it to China, but have no money, no passport and no way to provide for themselves. Lydia, a beautiful, willful red-head, becomes a thief to help support them, and during one of her "bussiness trips" into the Chinese portion of the town (as opposed to the part practically owned by the British) she almost gets kidnapped and sold into prostitution, only to be saved by a Chinese communist, Chang An Lo. Eventually, they fall in love and as you can imagine, chaos rules.

I love the character of Lydia. She is beautifully and lovingly drawn. She has fire and depth. She alone makes this novel worth reading. The other characters are also done rather well, but I felt like the author had a checklist:

Corrupt British bureaucrat who beats and cheats on his wife. Check.
Well-meaning British school teacher who has a Chinese lover, has gone native and eventually succumbs to the drug, opium, that destroyed his family. Check.
Russian mom who has to whore herself out, albeit in a upper-class fashion, to survive and marries the first rich, nice British guy who asks. Check.
Powerful Chinese warlord who controlls the opium trade and is very rich, ruthless and violent. Check.

You get the picture. In addition, the last half of the book could easily be a script for a soap opera, and that's not a compliment. Yes, I know this is a novel, meaning, it is not real, but please, this crossed the border from incredulous to how stupid do you think I am. The author might of well have put a cape on Lydia and Chang An Lo and declared them superheroes, for all they went through.

Overall, I would not recommend this book. While the characters are written beautifully, the story itself defies logic. The best thing about this book: it gave me a great idea for a research project. What did happen to the Russians who had to flee to China? But other than that, this book was not worth the time.

When is blogger going to fix spell-check?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Little lost bird

I was not subbing for sexual education when I uttered the words "oral activity." I was subbing for Spanish. There was a question about why they had to write an activity that was supposed to be oral. My answer, "you need to write it down even though it is an oral activity."

Today I saw the most beautiful bird I have ever seen (well, maybe. I've seen a lot of beautiful birds). I've linked to it above. It must have been lost though, because it's not really supposed to be here, and it was all by itself. But it posed for me and let me watch for quite some time.

It's my anniversary today. The kids are here, as is Wes's dad. I made a HUGE meal, but forgot the wine. It has been a good day.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I forgot where I was

If you ever substitute for middle school, never, EVER, utter the words "oral activity."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mary, I'm not

So, no miracle occurred in January. I was really bummed about this, so my husband took me birdwatching. We had a great time and identified two new birds. I was also able to point out two birds I had previously identified, but Wes had never seen. Then, to top the afternoon off, we saw a Bald Eagle. That was pretty cool. Saturday night we celebrated our two year anniversary a week early. His dad and kids will be here on the actual date, and since I wasn't pregnant I could drink. We had a great time, the food was delicious and then we came home and fell asleep. Because, gee whiz, we've been married for two whole years and how else would we celebrate (but we really did just go to sleep: Wes has been sick for a week).

This week, I'm actually working a couple of days. And today I'm frantically cleaning the house, since I'm working the rest of the week and the house is filthy and his dad is going to visit for a whole week. The only week my husband will be home in the month of February. I have a feeling we may not get pregnant this month either. At least Wes will be home for the month of March.