Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Big Day

Tomorrow I start my first official day as a teacher. Yikes! I feel ready, but we'll see how it goes tomorrow morning. I just keep telling myself that after tomorrow, I'll never have another first day of teaching. That's a happy thought.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back to Work

Well, I'm officially a working woman. Yesterday was my first workday, and, let me tell you, it's exhausting. I know I'll eventually get used to waking up before the sun, but right now 6:30 a.m. comes way too early. I keep thinking to myself, "How did I ever do this during student teaching?" I'm missing those lazy, responsibility-free days of summer, when the most I had to accomplish was getting out of bed before 10:00 a.m., and watching CSI. However, the new paychecks will certainly be nice.

This will probably be my last update about work, since I feel kind of weird blogging about teaching and school. But you can always ask me about it in person!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

An Abundance of Meh

I hate finishing a book that you never really liked in the first place; it has that dissatisfying feeling of staying in a relationship that you know isn't going anywhere, but you're too lazy to break it off. Such was my experiene with my latest read. I just finished John Green's YA lit book An Abundance of Katherines, and I was sufficiently underwhelmed. I originally read it because I fell in love with Green's haunting, heartbreaking first novel Looking for Alaska, a book that I still think about (which is always the mark of a fantastic story). However, a formulaic plot (a coming-of-age summer roadtrip, where we learn of love and identity) coupled with a trite message (Gee, I am in charge of my own future! I'm not defined by my past or my former self!) make for an average read.

The book tells the story of recent high school graduate Colin Singleton, a former child prodigy and wannabe genius, who has been dumped by girls named Katherine exactly nineteen times. Nursing his latest Katherine-related broken heart, he and best friend Hassan embark on a summer roadtrip, the outcomes of which the reader can easily predict from early on in the story. As expected, Colin learns to love a girl whose name is not Katherine, and he recognizes that life and his own future are unpredictable.

Despite the book's formulaic plotline and tired themes, Green excels at building interesting, complex characters, and one of the book's bright spots is main character Colin. Colin's vast intellect results in a general misunderstanding of social cues and human conversation; Hassan frequently chides him for bringing up uninteresting topics, like Austro-Hungarian archdukes, in social situations. At one point in the story, Hassan makes a grammatical error in conversation, and, not wanting to bring up a topic which regular people find boring, Colin internally corrects the grammar mistake: "Stolen something, Colin wanted to say. But grammar isn't interesting." Oh, Colin, I empathize with you. While grammar is infinitely interesting to me, and I could have a lengthy discussion about it with you, I must repress those urges in everyday conversation so as not to look like a complete nerd. All readers will find some of their personal neuroses, academic or otherwise, mirrored in Colin.

Much like romantic comedies, YA lit is always about the same thing, those familiar feelings and experiences of adolescence, making it very easy to screw up. At its best it grabs hold of a worn idea, or premise, or character, and transforms those familiar tropes into something new and fresh and magical that touches all readers; at its worst it feels predictable and gimmicky, using teen drama to disguise poor writing and a trite story (can you hear me, Stephanie Meyer?). And while its story may appeal to young adults, overall An Abundance of Katherines does not stand on its own outside the genre.

One word: meh. Just read Looking for Alaska.