Friday, April 26, 2013

TTC Friday: When Coworkers Need to STFU

One of the many things I didn't appreciate before TTC is all of the stupid, inappropriate things people say to women on the subect of TTC. They always mean well and I'm sure I've said my share of idiotic things too, but this is a subject that is best left alone unless you really know the person you are talking to.

Over the last couple of weeks, here's a sampling of what I've heard from one of my coworkers:

"When are you planning to have kids? You've been married for a while right?"
[Followed, of course, in the next breath by complaints about how her mother used to ask her that all the time and it drove her crazy]

"Don't wait too long to have kids. The older you get, the harder it is on your body." [She had twins at 38]

"How old are you? Seriously, just forget this teaching thing and go have kids. It's brutal when you're older."

It was no big deal at first, just casual conversation, but it is getting more persistent and really starting to irritate me. I'm now into month #10 and it's yet another long cycle - day 43 and still waiting for a positive OPK. The longer it drags on, the less patience I have for this crap.

I try to laugh it off and change the subject but what I'd really like to tell her is that it's pretty damn hard to do anything BUT wait and I'd appreciate NOT being reminded of the passage of time. I'd really like to tell her that my plans are none of her damn business. I'd really like to tell her that my body is giving me enough grief just trying to get pregnant, I don't need to hear how bad it'll be if I eventually do manage to get pregnant. And mostly...


Seriously. Why do people think this is ok?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Dead as a Doornail

Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris
Southern Vampire Mysteries #5 (aka the Sookie Stackhouse novels)
Rating: 3.0/5.0

If you haven't been reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels or watching True Blood (the show was inspired by these books), you are missing out. I'm not normally a fan of the vampire or supernatural genre but even I managed to get myself hooked!

Sookie Stackhouse is a bar waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She's a nice, good looking Southern girl who also happens to be a telepath. Her "disability" leaves Sookie without many human friends, but with an inconvenient tendency to get drawn into the dealings of other supernatural beings in the area. In Sookie's world, vampires exist and are "out" to the general public. As the series progresses, we meet more "supes" but the main focus is usually on the vampires. Also, there is sexy time. In this installment, Sookie has to adjust to her brother's newfound supernatural tendencies and we learn more about the politics of shapeshifters. I'll leave it at that because I don't want to spoil the first four books.

These novels are meant to be light, easy reading and with your expectations calibrated accordingly, they are quite satisfying. Actually, up to this point, I thought Harris' writing was steadily getting better with each book. From that perspective, this one fell short. It felt like filler; things did happen but not as much compared to the previous novels. The pacing felt off. It was also shorter than I expected, which was great since things have been so busy, but also a little disappointing.

So, Dead as a Doornail is not my favourite in the series so far. But it's still a fun series and worth a try if you're looking for something easy and different.

Monday, April 15, 2013

March Bingo

Midterm reports are due at the end of this week. I should be working on those right now but procrastination is more appealing. Instead, I bring you the March Reading Bingo update:

I only hit one new square last month. My progress has remained steady with two books and an audiobook in March, though I had hoped for more since I had a week off. The books:

7. Little Princes

8. The Virgin Suicides
  • A contender for Great First Line (I'll decide on that at the end of the year):  
"On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide—it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese—the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope."
9. Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You
  • A book by a Canadian author
March also brought my first abandoned book of the year: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre. I had high hopes for it given that it's supposed to be one of the greatest spy novels ever, but I just couldn't get into it. DH and I tried watching the movie but gave up on that too, despite the great cast.

April is shaping up to be a pretty slow month so far. The countdown to summer and uninterrupted reading time is on!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You

Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You, Alice Munro
Short stories
Rating: 3.0/5.0

Alice Munro is one of my favourite authors. When it comes to short stories, she's tough to beat. That said, she is maybe something of an acquired taste. The first couple of times I tried to read her collections, I just couldn't get into them and didn't see what the big fuss was about her. One year, I was gifted a copy of Runaway for Christmas and something clicked. I have loved her since.

This collection, unfortunately, reminded me of my first few attempts at her work. It was hard to get into. It's one of her older ones, published in the '70s, which may be part of the reason. The style is not quite the same as her more recent work. I often found myself wondering what was going on, particularly with the first several stories.

As the title would suggest, all of the stories in the collection deal with the consequences of things left unsaid, things that were misspoken, or misunderstood. I did like "How I Met My Husband," "Forgiveness in Families," and I especially liked "The Spanish Lady," which is about a woman trying to come to terms with the break up of her marriage after her husband's infidelity. The way that story is told is what I was originally expecting from the collection and is the Munro that I love. She has a way of capturing female emotions and experiences that is so spot on, it's gutwrenching sometimes.

There were a couple of passages that I couldn't help laugh at. Munro was always a good observer of human nature. Consider that these were written long before social media or reality TV ever existed: 

From "Walking on Water":
...what he objected to in this generation , if that was what it was, was that they could not do a thing without showing off. Why all this yawping about everything, he asked. They could not grow a carrot without congratulating themselves on it.

From "Marrakesh":
Dorothy had seen pictures in magazines of this new type of adult who appeared to have discarded adulthood. Jeanette was the first one she had seen close up and in the flesh. It used to be that young boys and girls would try to look like grown men and women, often with ridiculous results. Now there were grown men and women who would try to look like teen-agers until, presumably, they woke up on the brink of old age.

Overall, not a bad collection but not Munro's best either. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

TTC Friday: Saturday Edition

Things have been pretty quiet on the TTC front around the blog lately. There's not much left to say on the subject. When I last posted, I mentioned that the frustration was starting affect other areas of my life and I felt like I needed to take a step back. That has turned out to be the best decision I could have made.

As the months kept passing by and my cycles kept dragging on, it took up more and more mental and emotional space. I was thinking about it and worrying about it more often than not. Work, as I've mentioned many times before, has been stressful this semester and I wasn't handling it as well as I could have because my energy was focused elsewhere. It was getting to the point where I was getting behind with marking and giving up on dealing with some classroom issues; I just didn't feel up to it. Hormones being all over the place didn't help either. When I found myself starting to think bitter things like "I have bigger things to worry about right now than a bunch of immature kids acting like brats," I realized that a line had to be drawn. I was not proud of the job I'd been doing and it was exhausting feeling perpetually behind, never making progress. I don't want my students to remember me as the teacher who was tired all the time and didn't seem to want to be there. That was when I started the Good Things project.

I decided to focus on the fact that, according to my ultrasound and blood tests (however ill-timed they might have been), things are fine. I'd keep charting, temping, and doing all of the things I usually do, but I was not going to think about it beyond what was necessary. I'd start appreciating all of the things that were going right rather than focus on the one big thing that was going wrong. Letting go of that weight has been such a relief. For the first time since the semester began, I feel like I'm in control and on top of things. I'm still a bit behind but it doesn't feel like a bottomless pit anymore. I'm smiling more in class again and am putting more into my lessons again beyond just what is needed to get through each day. I am also more appreciative of my collegues; they are probably also dealing with personal things that the rest of us have no idea about and it is probably not easy for them either.

In the back of my mind, I still wonder how much longer this is going to take. I still wonder what we're going to do when we hit that one year mark. I still wonder if there is something wrong. None of worries have magically disappeared. But those worries are exactly where they need to be right now: the back of my mind.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
Rating: 3.5/5.0

There was a period in mid-March when I felt like reading something sad. Sometimes, a really depressing read can be cathartic. I loved Middlesex, also by Jeffrey Eugenides, so this seemed like a winning choice.

The Virgin Suicides was well written, as I'd expected. I liked the way that Eugenides uses the physical deterioration of the Lisbon house as a reflection of the emotional and psychological deterioration of the family within.

This passage really stood out for me:
The man lashed the fence, in sections, to his truck and -- getting paid for it -- gave Mr. Bates the worst lawn job we'd ever seen. We were amazed our parents permitted this, when lawn jobs usually justified calling the cops. But now Mr. Bates didn't scream or try to get the truck's license plate, nor did Mrs. Bates, who had once wept when we set off firecrackers in her state-fair tulips -- they said nothing, and our parents said nothing, so that we sensed how ancient they were, how accustomed to trauma, depressions, and wars. We realized that the version of the world they rendered for us was not the world they really believed in, and that for all their caretaking and bitching about crabgrass they didn't give a damn about lawns.
I think all parents do this to some extent, and I do this as a teacher sometimes. We try to create a world for our kids/students that reflects more of an ideal than reality. We hope that we can mold kids into it and make something better than what we had. Eventually, though, kids will have to deal with things as they are. This school year has been full of events that have forced us to address serious subjects with our students that aren't a day-to-day part of our courses. This passage reflects so well the way that our true priorities come out when tragedy strikes.

The book did not turn out to be as sad or disturbing as I'd expected given the subject matter. The way the story is told, from the perspective of a group of boys who lived across the street and observed but never truly knew what happened, results in a sense of detachment that never goes away. It's almost more of a journalistic style than novel-like. That made it a bit tough to get into. In the end, I didn't really feel like I knew much about the Lisbon girls or their family, or had much insight into their motivation. It was well written but not particularly satisfying.

Sofia Coppola made the film adaptation: