There’s a saying about opportunity knocking, but I’m not sure how it goes. I do know that opportunity has knocked and I keep opening the door. The more I open the door the more disconnected I become from the grunt and grind of teaching. Just to be clear, the grunt and the grind isn’t planning and teaching, and it certainly isn’t the students. It’s the everything else, the meetings and the more meetings, the paperwork, the emails, the testing and more testing, the lack of time to plan. I feel myself drifting from what I was trained to do, what I went back to school to do, but maybe it isn’t what I was born to do, or maybe I’m just another burnt out teacher trying to climb out of the dark dumpster days of January, February, and March. April seems so far away.
You didn’t come here for the doldrums though, you came for my charm, my wit, my gentle disposition, and the books, so let’s get to it:
I recently read Stolen Justice by Lawrence Goldstone, even wrote a review of it for ALAN. I was ready to storm the metaphorical and literal gates by the time I finished, but I was also happy to have learned. I read stories about the struggle for voting rights that I had never heard. Stories of people without the big names, the ones that never make the history books, the soldiers.
Do you ever read the follow-up to a successful book and think, “yeah, this was about taking advantage of momentum because absolutely no.” I read a book like that recently. It should have been a easy swing but it turned out to be an epic miss. I mean epic. Sometimes you need to take the success and leave a world behind lest you run the risk of tarnishing what came before. I believe in second chances though, so I’ll read what comes next.
I’m going to New York on Sunday for a Broadway show, To Kill a Mockingbird. It should be fun,. Well, as much fun as a play that ends with the death of an innocent black man at the hands of racists can be for an audience. I love the movie but the book always leaves me conflicted and restless. Conversation about the book usually leaves me angry—stop teaching this book as anything more than a coming of age story with an unreliable narrator. It is not, never has been, and never will be a commentary on race. I’m going to put all that apprehension and anger aside to just enjoy the moment. It’s a day trip not a true vacation, but it’s in the nick of time.
I love a good mystery. I also love a great series. Years ago, I read the Spellman series by Lisa Lutz. It was everything my book club didn’t like or read, which means it was everything I loved. The characters were hilariously and realistically flawed, the world was a little dirty but the sun still shined, no one owned a cute little flower shop or stumbled into a murder at the PTSA bake sale, and the women weren’t described as average, okay, and cute enough while the men were all insert the name of a pretty boy here. Full disclosure, I didn’t love the way the series ended. It felt like Lutz had pulled a Christie or Doyle, growing tired of her own creations and wanting it to end. I didn’t love it, but at the same time messy characters call for messy endings. Full full disclosure, years ago I outlined and started writing the first book in a mystery series. The character was a mom with a missing husband who stumbled upon a dead body while dropping off treats for the PTSA bake sale. You can sit right beside me and judge me, I’ll be right there judging myself. I’ve buried the lead. Lisa Lutz has a new book, The Swallows. You should read it. It isn’t YA, but so far it’s my favorite read of 2020. The characters are messy, the world is dirty, and the story is timely. You could also give the audiobook a try; I’ll refrain from telling you why.
Next up for me is Phil Stamper’s The Gravity of Us, Justina Ireland’s Deathless Divide, and an ARC of TJ Klune’s The Extraordinaries.
It’s teacher late, so until next time. Maybe, I’ll be ready to share some of those opportunities.