Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who's on First

Everyone loves the classic Abbott & Costello bit.

Four hours into a six hour car trip, right as the moon has risen, but before full darkness has settled....

Charlotte: What's that planet there?

Dawne (piping right up): It's probably Mars. I read an article just the other day about how we can see Mars now, but when it goes away, it won't be visible for another 6,000 years.

Me: Wow! Really? Where is it?

Dawne: It's supposed to be close to the moon.

Ellen (Peering out the window): Where?

Me: It's still so light, I don't see anything but the moon. I thought it was Venus you could see early in the evening.

I look into the rearview mirror to see Charlotte with an odd look on her face.

Ellen: Where is it?

Charlotte: By the side of the road.

Ellen (still peering out the window): What?

Charlotte: Not out in that field...right by the road.

Dawne (ignoring the exchange): I keep meaning to go out and look for it, but I never remember after it gets dark.

Me (frustrated now): What are you talking about Charlotte?

Charlotte: Those curly flowers by the side of the road. What are you talking about?

Ellen: You asked what's that planet there.

Charlotte: No....I asked what's that planted there....

Maybe it was a combination of an emotional day in the sun hopped up on pseudo-ephedrine, followed by too many hours in the car, but I laughed all the way home.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Football Season is Here!

Football season is upon us. Our local high school opened tonight, and my husband's college team opens tomorrow. I sit typing this entry in a Comfort Inn in NoWhere, TN...and I couldn't be happier. I love football season!

I love hanging with my football girls. Coaches' wives stick together. We have to. Ever heard an irate fan say,"They should get rid of that coach." It makes me cringe. These folks don't realize they're talking about someone's livelihood...someone's paycheck...someone's health insurance...someone's identity as a working person...someone whose job depends on the performance of college kids. Thankfully, we've been very successful and people mostly say nice things about us, but we've all heard ugly comments about the men we love. So we stick together.

Sticking together is easy. I've known the wives sitting in the motel room with me for more than 20 years. We've been together for weddings, the birth of children, and funerals. We've travelled to many, many football games in rain, ice storms, snow storms, and blistering heat. Small college football doesn't have much in the way of a travel budget, especially where the wives are concerned. We've made the occasional charter bus trip, and one very memorable plane ride, but mostly we travel by car and stay in places like the Comfort Inn. It's all good though. Long car trips foster intimacy, and we have fun.

I like the rhythm of the season. We live from Saturday to Saturday, game to game. Wins are celebrated. Losses are mourned. The leaves turn, you blink, and it's Thanksgiving. Fall goes faster than any other season of the year. Now that my younger son is a high school freshman, we have his games on Monday night, and the varsity games on Friday. I suspect the season will fly by even faster.

I love the games themselves. At least twice a week, I will nervously await kickoff. I usually can't eat before a game. My adrenaline will surge as the first hit is made, and my emotions will rise and fall with the successes and setbacks of the boys on the field, even more so when one of those boys is my own. I will hug muddy, sweaty boys when the game is over regardless of the outcome. The last words I will say to my husband before kickoff every Saturday are "Go Tigers!" and the first words I will say after the horn sounds at the end of the game are "Good game. I love you."

I'm going to bed in anticipation of a new season. My son has called to tell me the high school team won. Go Cards! Tomorrow my husband coaches in his 23rd season opener.

Football is here, baby! GO TIGERS!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quality of Information and Leisure to Digest it

School is back in session, and the blog has suffered as a result. I've been focused recently on student writing and my own WIP. I'm working on my time management skills, and I'm optimistic I'll find time for everything. (I write fantasy, and sometimes I fall prey to wildly impossible ideas.)

I posed a question to my students recently, and I feel compelled to share some of their responses. My pre-AP freshmen read Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 over the summer, and so we began with that when school started. I love starting with Fahrenheit because of its focus on thinking for oneself. We use that idea in everything we read and write all year long. Following is the prompt I gave them.

"Remember, the firemen are rarely necessary. The public itself stopped reading of its own accord." (p. 87)

What kind of education is necessary to create citizens who recognize "quality of information," take "leisure to digest it," and "carry out actions based on what [they] learned from the first two?" Do you think our current educational system does this?

The responses were varied, but a third of the class hit on a common theme. They believe the system fires information at them in the form of unrelated facts because the state says the material has to be covered. They don't ever have time to do more than memorize facts or understand ideas at the surface level.

One student said, "Our system crams it in without giving any leisure to digest it. This cripples our ability to learn due to the rush."

Another said, "Teachers always say 'hurry, hurry, hurry for the CATS test[Ky's statewide assessment].' We always seemed rushed."

Finally, the most telling, "It would take a system that could slow down so that students could process information. It would take a system that allowed students to form opinions based on an un-biased discussion. Lastly, it would take a system that was okay with confronting deep, controversial topics. In some ways, and in some classes, our education resembles this. In some classes, though, the useless memorization of facts seems like 'a lot of water and a lot of funnels.'"

These students have a point, and I'm not sure how to fix the problem. The scope of knowledge we are asked to convey in a 10 month period is broad, but which things would you delete? Do you let individual teachers decide? Honestly, that idea makes me nervous even though I like having autonomy in my own classroom.

I suspect the answer is in how the content is delivered by individual teachers. We have pacing documents that tell us we should be at "X" point by "X" date, but all of us quietly make decisions to touch on some of the content more deeply. Always hanging over us, though, is a sense of move, move, move. We don't want to let the kids down by not covering content on which the state will test them. At the same time, most of us believe it is better to truly understand something than to brush over it because it's on the test.

Maybe the problem is societal. How many adults recognize "quality of information" and take "leisure to digest it," let alone "carry out actions based on what they learned from the first two?" We live in a hurry, hurry, hurry world. Bradbury was correct. "The firemen are rarely necessary."

I love my job. The kids always make me think to the same degree I ask them to think.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Book Trailers Work!

I was first introduced to book trailers over at Kristen Nelson's blog. She reps some young adult authors, and I saw the trailer for Perfect Chemistry. Today was the first day my students were allowed to check books out from the library. The school media specialist and I decided to show book trailers for some of the KBA (Kentucky Bluegrass Award) nominated books before we turned them loose in the stacks.

We showed trailers for Unwind by Neal Shusterman, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Shift by Jennifer Bradbury, and, of course, Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. Not a single copy of any of those titles remains in our library now. They flew off the shelves. Four kids literally sprinted to the shelf to get the library's two copies of Perfect Chemistry. Two of the kids were boys. The girls got there first, and I had to laugh at the negotiations that occurred after they grabbed the books.

We created waiting lists for all of the books listed above. My English classes go to the library every two weeks for book check-out. We've decided to start each of those class periods with book trailers. They really get the kids fired up about the books. More so than a simple book talk.

If I wrote YA books, I would definitely create a trailer for my book, and I would make sure it got into the hands of English teachers and librarians. We are on the front lines for introducing those books to their intended audience. I know a library check-out isn't a sale, but I also know that once you have a teenage fan, they will go to the store and buy your other books. My own son became a fan of Carl Deuker's books, and I've subsequently bought him every title we could find.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Guilt Trippin'

I had a blog planned thanking Liana for nominating my blog for a "Kreativ Blogger" award. There are rules and such about what one is supposed to do when one is nominated. That's going to have to wait because my son laid a major guilt trip on me today, and I need to vent.

Today was an early release day in our district. The kids go home early, and the teachers have meetings. So I'm waiting for the meeting to start when my friend and colleague, Amanda, proceeds to tell me about my son's comments in her class. As part of a discussion of the summer reading, Fahrenheit 451, they were talking about ways that technology can alienate people from one another. My son tells the class that sometimes he feels like I ignore him when I'm on the computer writing and blogging.


I came home and asked him about it. Do you really feel like I ignore you? I gritted my teeth and didn't remind him that I chauffeur him to and from football practice every day. I usually watch the last half hour of practice. I've NEVER missed a game. I discuss the school day and practice when I'm cooking dinner...he sits at the counter almost every evening while I'm cooking. I still sit in the kitchen and keep him on track during homework time. He used to be so easily distracted, he needed me there to stay focused. He's much more self-directed now, but it's a habit we still keep. Every time he's ever said, "Mom, I need to talk to you." I drop whatever I'm doing and listen.

He grinned a little and said, "Sometimes." Sigh. I just bragged several blogs ago about how my family supports my writing. Honestly, they do.

Sometimes, I do make my sons wait a few minutes, sometimes even an hour, when I'm on a roll, and I don't want to lose momentum. They are 14 and 17...within a couple of months, they'll be 15 and 18. If they're hungry, they are capable of fixing themselves a snack until dinner time. If they can't find their cleats or ipod or socks, they can look for themselves until I reach a stopping point. I truly believe this perceived neglect has more to do with not having these kinds of needs met in the same moment they arise.

I've read similar stories on other writers' blogs. Finding time to write when you have a day job is difficult, even more difficult when you have a family. It's not impossible, though. I've already let go of the knee-jerk guilt. I'm doing the best I can to balance it all, and I'm a much happier person when I write.

Next time my son is hanging in his room listening to music or studying his playbook, I'm going to go looking for some mother/son time. I don't want the poor child to feel ignored.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I love it when a plan comes together.

My first week of school went well, but it was hectic and my WIP languished. I'm still working on finding my weekday writing groove. Mornings are when I do my best work. My brain is rested and firing on all cylinders. I don't trust what I write late at night, ironic since I'm writing this post late at night. I often have to rewrite the weird, late night turns my WIP takes. I guess I'll have to start going to bed earlier so I can get up earlier and get some writing done.

I'm very fired up about what I accomplished this weekend. My word count wasn't off the charts or anything...about 2K for the whole weekend, but I'm almost giddy all the same. The middle of this book has kicked my butt in a major way. I was so stuck I put it down for about six weeks last spring. I had plot threads hanging out all over the place, and my main character had gone strangely silent in my head.

In the last week of June, I literally made myself open the file. Since then I've slogged through some flat scenes I know I'll rewrite, but I've kept at it. If you stop by regularly, you've seen several whiny blog posts complaining about my writing troubles. But then, a couple of weeks ago, I started to pick up steam. One cool scene here...a snappy bit of dialogue there...and I was making progress. Even though the book sat while I was in school this past week, it was rattling around in my head.

Friday night, my subconscious mind went on a rampage. I had bizarre (and not completely happy) dreams all night long. I awoke tired and irritable Saturday morning. One dream in particular haunted me most of the day. I won't repeat it here, because when I told Bruce, he looked at me like I had lost my mind, and he loves me. God knows what complete strangers would think. I will say that it ended with a disembodied voice telling me to remember that karma is a bitch.

She is indeed, but why was she on my mind? Mid-afternoon, as I stood fondling the produce at Evans Orchard, it hit me. One of my major themes in this book has been the idea that all violence comes with a heavy price, even when it's justified. Karma is a bitch.

I came home and re-read my last 30 pages, letting that theme drive my thinking. I wrote two more pages and stopped to ruminate. This morning I woke early and heard my characters' voices. They drove me to my computer and six pages came effortlessly. I could have easily written more, but real-life responsibilities pulled me away. My son's senior pictures were important, and we needed clean clothes. It's okay though. The threads are starting to weave the picture I had in my head 10 months ago when I started this book. I finally feel the momentum that carried me through the end of the first one.

So no more whiny blog posts...knock on wood. And for the record, I waited until morning to post this. When my eyes are burning and my brain is in slow motion, it's time to call it a night.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Food for thought

School started on Monday, and I've spent my afternoons meeting with parents informing us about special issues their child is dealing with that may affect them in the classroom. For instance, yesterday we met with a mom whose child is diabetic. We touched base on the challenges that go with that disease and the symptoms of low blood sugar. Today, we met with the parent of a dyslexic student. As the child's English teacher, I need this information.

I won't fuss at my diabetic student for not focusing. I'll ask her how she's feeling, and have her escorted to the office for a blood sugar check. I won't judge my dyslexic student for becoming frustrated when we read. I know the challenges these students face.

Food for thought. What if people out in the world came to us with labels? Would we be more understanding if we knew the challenges they faced? The guy who cut me off in traffic might be pre-occupied because his job is in danger or his hours have been cut. The bank teller might have snarled at me because her sister has cancer, and she's taken a turn for the worse.

I've made it my goal this year to be more patient with all my students. Most of their challenges don't come with labels that require meetings after school. I'm also trying harder to be more patient with people in general. Times are tough all over, and civility is often in short supply. It's been my experience that a smile and a little patience go a long way.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Julie & Julia Prove No Woman is an Island

Today was the first day of school, and I had a great day. I'm sure I'll have some commentary later in the week about the new year, but that's not the subject of tonight's blog. I saw Julie & Julia yesterday, and I need to write about it before too much time passes.

I didn't expect to see this one until it came out on video. It's not the kind of movie my guys typically want to see, although I do think Bruce would like it. Thankfully, my friend, Linda, was all about it. She's a movie buff, and she has a movie quote for every situation. She has already adopted the Julia Childs voice. In fact, she greeted me at school today with a jaunty, high pitched, "Good mooorning!"

Both of us give the movie two thumbs up. Meryl Streep's Julia is wonderful, and Amy Adams is fun as the modern day Julie. The movie opens with Julia and her husband Paul moving to Paris. He's working at the US embassy, and she needs something to do. She adores French food and ends up at the famed Cordon Bleu. Meanwhile in the present, Julie sits in a cubicle at the offices of the government agency charged with redeveloping lower Manhattan after 9/11. She loves to cook and revives her battered spirit at the end of each day in the kitchen. She is a writer with a half-finished novel and no sense of purpose. At the encouragement of her husband, she sets a goal to cook the 524 recipes in Julia Childs' cookbook in 365 days and to blog about it.

Both women find themselves through cooking and writing about cooking. Julia devotes eight years to her famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She is rejected by numerous publishers. They all like her concept, but not the length (It's over 700 pages). Julie has victories and setbacks as the following for her blog grows.

The thing that really resonated with me was the support both women had from the men in their lives. Paul Childs was crazy in love with Julia. He supported her from the beginning in her desire to learn to cook French food and then to write the book. When she received a particularly painful rejection, he dropped the only F-bomb in the movie, and the audience cheered. He kept telling her she was wonderful and that her book would change the world. And it did. After 49 printings, the proof is in the pudding (pun intended).

Julie's husband was the catalyst for her blog. The blog led to a book deal, and now she's a professional writer.

Writing is time-consuming. There are only so many hours in a day. Cliche, but true. Choosing to spend time writing means choosing not to do other things. For example, I should be in bed now after a long first day back at work, followed by chauffeuring my younger son from football, cooking dinner, and a trek up Mount Laundrymore. Instead I'm writing.

Thanks to the support of my husband and my boys, I always feel good about the time I spend writing. Bruce gets why I do it. He understands there is a part of me that has to write to be fed. My boys are old enough to understand having a passion for something. I've discovered through third parties they brag about having a mom who has written a book. That's cool.

Writing is a solitary pursuit, but as both Julie and Julia demonstrate, it's a lot easier with a cheering section.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What I Read this Summer

Ahhh, Summer. Lazy hazy days spent recharging the batteries. My typical schedule began with a morning writing session. I curled up in my favorite leather chair with my laptop and wrote until I ran out of gas, rarely changing out of my pajamas. Early afternoon was blog-rolling time, checking in with the book-publishing world and my favorite writers. Finally, in the late afternoon or evening after dinner, I disappeared into someone else's book.

School starts on Monday, and summer is officially over for me. I'm excited about a new year and new students, but as a last nod to my break, I thought I'd share what I read.

DAYHUNTER by Jocelynn Drake

This was my first summer book, and I loved it. DAYHUNTER is the urban fantasy follow-up to NIGHTHUNTER. The series follows Mira, a vampire, embroiled in a classic struggle between good and evil and an unlikely attraction to the vampire-hunter, Danaus. In Drake's world, the vampires have a very structured hierarchy. Mira has close ties to the upper echelon of the council, and as she follows the trail of the evil naturi, she discovers corruption in her own ranks. Because the naturi represent a threat to both vampires and humans, she teams up with Danaus. Lots of twists and turns make this a fun read, and even at the end, Mira is unclear about who she can trust. I look forward to more of Drake's work.

SKIN TRADE by Laurell K. Hamilton

I've already done a complete review of this book, and you can read it here. I was a bit harsh in my review. Maybe because we hurt the ones we love the most?? I'm not sure, but even in hindsight I'm sticking by the original review. I love LKH and Anita Blake, but I didn't love this book.

MAVERICK by Lora Leigh

This romantic suspense stars Micah, a special ops, former Israeli Mossad badass. He has to save the heroine, Risa, from an assassin who has been hired to kill her because she's been repressing information that will expose someone important. Risa was a test subject for a drug called whore's dust. Human traffickers use it to make unwilling young women more willing. Risa saw the doctor in charge of the tests, but repressed the memory. As villains go, this guy is pretty darn despicable. In addition to saving Risa's life, Micah vows to heal her battered spirit. Honestly, most of the story is Risa's healing. The plot is unique, and the hero is hot, but I wanted more action. The book is labelled "romantic suspense," and that's why I picked it up. I was in the mood for suspense, and I got a tender romance. My only quibble is the misleading label. As a straight-up romance, it's a winner.

THE BROKEN WINDOW by Jeffrey Deaver

Because I didn't get enough suspense from MAVERICK, I grabbed a Jeffrey Deaver novel. He never fails to entertain, and this was no exception. Lincoln Rhyme is Deaver's wheelchair-bound sleuth. He makes the folks on CSI look like amateurs. This book opens with Lincoln's cousin appearing to commit a vicious murder. The reader realizes early on that the cousin has been set up. The story is a chilling tale of extreme identity theft. The serial killer has access to a database containing the most intimate information. All he needs to acquire it is a name. When Lincoln picks up his trail, the killer targets Amelia, Lincoln's partner and girlfriend. Plenty of suspense in this one, and the premise is downright scary.

PREY by Rachel Vincent

Vincent is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. I LOVED this book. PREY is the continuing saga of Faythe, a cat shifter who is headstrong to the point of recklessness. She and Marc, her childhood sweetheart, are finally on the same page at the end of the previous book, PRIDE, and then as a consequence of Rachel's actions, Marc is banished. PREY opens with Faythe visiting Marc in the free zone as she travels through on business. A group of strays (cat shifters who aren't part of a pride) attack them, and we're off to the races. The action never slows, and the plot twists are gut-wrenching. Vincent is absolutely fearless in taking the story where it needs to go. Her novels are an intense emotional ride. While she's twisting you into knots, she also comments on the role of women in society, the price of creating social outcasts, and political corruption. Faythe is flawed, but likable. Loyal and self-sacrificing, she wants the best for her pride. Too often though, she lets her emotions drive her actions, and Vincent never lets Faythe off the hook. The end of this book is gripping, and I can't wait for the next one.

HIDDEN CURRENTS by Christine Feehan

If you love paranormal romance, you can't go wrong with a Feehan book. HIDDEN CURRENTS is the last of the Drake sisters series. The 7 Drake sisters each have some sort of psychic power. Elle, the 7th sister and a secret agent, has a touch of all her sisters' powers. The book opens with Elle being kidnapped and Jackson saving her. My only issue with Feehan's books is that she likes her heroines weak. The Drake sisters are stronger than most of Feehan's heroines. They have a girl power vibe that I like, and Elle is strong until the villain tortures her and breaks her down. Cue strong alpha male savior. Jackson was a POW when he served in the army, so he understands what it's like to be tortured. He charges in to save Elle both physically and spiritually. The plot is predictable, but if you're looking for a hot paranormal romance, then HIDDEN CURRENTS works.

DEAD AND GONE by Charlaine Harris

This is another book I've already reviewed, and you can read my review here. Sookie Stackhouse has a strong voice, and I love catching up with her. The end of this particular book was unsettling, and I'm interested to see where Harris takes the series next.

ECSTASY by Jacquelyn Frank

This book sat in my "to be read" pile for a while. I've enjoyed Frank's Nightwalker series, but for some reason this book got lost in the shuffle. I guess I let this one sit because it's a departure from her previous installments. ECSTASY begins a series of books about the Shadowdwellers who are a part of the larger Nightwalker world of demons, vampires, shapeshifters, and other creatures of the night. I finally pulled it out of the pile when I noticed the sequel at the bookstore. I'm glad I did. The Shadowdwellers live in darkness. They also sometimes inhabit a realm called Shadowscape and another called Dreamscape. ECSTASY opens as the heroine, Ashla, hits a semi-truck head on. In her subsequent coma, she wanders through Shadowscape and meets Trace, a Shadowdweller. Romance ensues. As in all romance, the pair faces daunting obstacles, including a difference of race (she's not a Shadowdweller), dementia brought on when Trace remains in Shadowscape too long, a mother from hell, and the fact that Ashla is in a coma. Frank's writing sucked me immediately into her world, so I went right back to the bookstore for my next read.

RAPTURE by Jacquelyn Frank

The upside to letting ECSTASY sit was I got to read the next book immediately. RAPTURE is about Trace's father, Magnus. The Shadowdwellers live for centuries, so it's not as weird as it initially sounds. Magnus is the spiritual leader of the Shadowdwellers. He has lost his long time help-mate and needs a new one. The priests of the Shadowdwellers are not celibate by dogma, but Magnus has been celibate by choice for a very long time. Then he meets Daenaira, and boy howdy does that choice go out the window. This romance is also a good mystery. Frank is master of the red herring. Magnus has a traitor in his midst, and Daenaira helps flush out the culprit. Of course, being a big bad alpha male, Magnus resists accepting her help. Daenaira kicks ass and takes names, and proves herself equal to the task. The romance is satisfying. The mystery is good. Two thumbs up.

THE DOOMSDAY KEY by James Rollins

James Rollins' Sigma books are too much fun. Put Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Robert Langdon on the same team, and you have the men of Sigma, a secret government agency that fights crime and solves age-old mysteries all at the same time. In THE DOOMSDAY KEY, Sigma is facing bio-terrorism. Their nemesis organization, The Guild, has genetically engineered corn to be lethal. The genetic strain is related to a scourge that wiped out portions of England in the time of William the Conqueror. Grayson Pierce has to follow historical, archaeological, and religious clues to avert disaster. The book is absolutely fascinating in its theories about how pagan and Christian symbols merged over time, and Rollins weaves this information into a page-turning thriller. He includes a section at the end in which he explains what part of his book is real and what part is fiction. Most all the historical and religious stuff is real.

Rollins always includes a touch of magic in his's subtle, but it's enough to keep you thinking. And his books aren't simply blow-stuff-up, odes to testosterone. The protagonists are men, but they all have women in their lives. Some of them are on the team. Rollins writes smart, capable women. A bizarre love triangle adds to the fun of this book. THE DOOMSDAY KEY was one of my favorites of the summer. It is the 6th book in the series, and if you haven't read any of them, I recommend going back to the first one and reading them in order.

STORM OF VISIONS by Christina Dodd

I first discovered Dodd when I read her Darkness Chosen books. STORM OF VISIONS is the first in a new series called The Chosen ones, and the two series are related through a member of the Wilder family. The book starts with a fairy tale...not the kind Disney tells, but a much darker story, like one you might find in The Brothers Grimm. Two abandoned children, twins, meet vastly different fates. One wonderful. One horrible. Both are given supernatural gifts that are passed through time to other abandoned children, setting up another classic good versus evil showdown. In the present day, seven of the Chosen must work together to combat the evil. Jacqueline is the key to the group because she is a seer. She's not real keen on the job, and her adopted mother (the old seer) sends her bodyguard, Caleb, to show her the error of her ways. Of course, Caleb is totally hot and has a long volatile history with Jacqueline. Romance ensues. Caleb and Jacqueline have to overcome Mommy issues, a traitor among the Chosen, and the devil himself to find happiness. Another fun read.

SKYKEEPERS by Jessica Andersen

Andersen's series is based on the Mayan calendar countdown that ends on December 21, 2012. SKYKEEPERS is the third installment of the battle between the Nightkeepers, who are desperately trying to stop the apocalypse, and the Xibalbans, who want to hasten it along. Yep...more good versus evil...this time using Central American mythology. Each book is a separate romance, but the story arc of the larger battle runs through all of them. Andersen's approach to storytelling reminds me of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This book focuses on Michael and Sasha. Sasha was kidnapped by the Xibalbans in an earlier book, and Michael has to both save her and convince her that her crazy father's stories about the Nightkeepers and the end of the world are all true. Michael's life is complicated by the fact that he was an assassin for the CIA before he became a Nightkeeper, and the demons from his former life still haunt him. The mythology of the series is engrossing, and the characters are rich. Michael took longer to grow on me than some of Andersen's other heroes. His "I'll suffer in silence and save you from my scary past" attitude is annoying, but the romance is satisfying in the end. The previews I've seen at the movies this summer suggest Andersen isn't the only author hopping on the 2012 bandwagon.

So there you have it. That's what I read over my summer break. My "to be read" pile is deep, and Karen Marie Moning's FAEFEVER sits on my nightstand waiting. I'm diving in, but now I have to balance the reading and writing with my teaching responsibilities. *sigh* I miss summer already.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fake blondes have more fun

My 17 year old son decided last spring that blondes have more fun and made plans to dye his hair. I've always thought he was a handsome kid...yeah I know, I'm biased...but he really is. He's lucky enough to have my husband's coloring. Dark hair, dark brown eyes, skin that tans a golden brown with minimal sun exposure.

Me: Son, your hair color suits you perfectly. It matches your skin and your eyes. I love you just the way you are.

Son: unintelligible one syllable response.

I thought the matter was settled. My powerful skills of persuasion had rendered him speechless. I have these delusional moments. I'm familiar with the unintelligible response. I know it's not acquiescence. It's "you don't agree with me, so I'm going to ignore your opinion and do what I want." I know this. Sigh. Two nights later, he called me from a friend's house.

Son: I'm coloring my hair.

Me: What!!!

Son: Friend and I are doing it together. His older brother is helping. We got the color from WalMart. It stings a little, but it's gonna be great.

He spent the night at his friend's house, knowing I needed time to process this revelation. He came home the next afternoon with yellow hair. Not blonde...yellow...banana yellow. He could have been the poster child for "Hair color gone wrong."

Me: You look ridiculous! (More mother of the year material.)

Son: Really? I think it looks good.

He did too. I was fully prepared to call my hair stylist. She's a friend, and she might have done emergency hair doctoring on a Sunday if I'd begged. Son didn't even ask. He went to school on Monday with his yellow head held high. The reviews were mixed, but the cute girl who told him he looked great with blonde hair pretty much sealed the deal.

So this all happened a couple of months ago. I got over it pretty quickly. I'm a public school teacher, and I've seen how far some kids are willing to go to assert their independence. It's just hair. Bruce struggled more with it than I did, but he's come to grips as well. So why blog now?

I wouldn't trade my boys for anything, but sometimes I'm wistful when my friends shop or get their nails done with their daughters. Those kind of bonding moments just don't happen with sons. Today proved that anything is possible. I shared an experience with my son I've always envied my friends with daughters. We got our hair done together.

This is actually the second time he's seen my hair stylist. When his hair grew out and became two-toned, we had to do something. But today, we both had our hair done. We gossiped and talked smack about the videos playing on VH1 in the background. We compared notes on the movies we had seen this summer. Son told us all about the new roller coaster at King's Island. He spoke in complete sentences, using intelligible words! To be fair, Sheri and I did most of the talking, but son laughed a lot, and a good time was had by all.

I'm now officially a fan of son's new hair color. Honestly, I have no room to talk. I've been coloring my hair so long, I'm not sure what its true color is anymore. But after today's salon outing, I'm convinced that blondes really do have more fun.