My eReader is Making Me Stupid

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I started off with the Kindle. Then I sat on it, broke it, and bought a Nook. Then I got an iPad to read books on my Kindle, Nook, and Unlimited Kindle Amazon apps. I’ve complained about my library system for years, so last year I purchased a monthly subscription with OysterBooks. I used this to screen books for the library. They went out of business, so I tried Scribd. Scribd started off strong (they have a nice audio book selection), but they recently changed their pricing plan and it’s a bit confusing. I have unlimited access to certain books all the time, unlimited access to certain books selected by editors monthly, and access to 3 books per month from the Scribd library. I might understand the new Scribd model if reading e-books didn’t make me so stupid.

Reading e-books doesn’t makes everyone stupid. I know there are people out there who use their e-readers to access their Nobel laureates collection on-the-go. Somewhere there is a woman, sitting at the doctor’s office, waiting 45 minutes for her quarterly dental hygiene appointment. “No problem,” she tells the apologetic receptionist as she syncs to the last read page of The Republic. “That’s what Plato is for!”

“No problem,” I would tell the apologetic receptionist as I synced to the last read page of Lover Revealed. “That’s what ambiguously gay vampires are for!”

I blame Amazon Kindle Unlimited. You still have to spend money with a Kindle, Nook, or Scribd account, but with Amazon Unlimited, you pay a small fee once a year and in return have access to hundreds of thousands of free books. Many of those books are good; great, even. Over the last few months I’ve stumbled upon books I was going to buy, or wanted to read, or thought looked interesting. I didn’t read them, of course. Why eat an orange when there are donuts?

I’m not a huge fan of donuts, but I’ll have one if I find them in the break room because (1) they go down easy, (2) they’re free, and (3) I never know when I’ll eat another. This last justification amuses me because donuts are at school only on days that end in Y. There is always a donut somewhere on campus. Oranges, funny enough, are hard to find. I know I have a dieter’s mentality when it comes to food. I didn’t know I have one when it comes to books! Like oranges, there are plenty of books I would enjoy more and get more from, but instead I inhale the Book Donut.

I don’t need donuts all the time, whether they’re made of sugar and flour or paper and glue. I also don’t need to be the priest I met at a conference who said I should only read books and watch television shows/movies that are edifying. “He sounds like a dull, uptight man,” said my parish priest when I told him the story. “I hope I never get stuck in a Diocesan meeting with him.” (I love my parish priest.)

I need moderation in my life. To that end, I’m considering an e-reading fast where I read only paper books for a time. Like a juice fast, but I’m giving up lousy books on Amazon Unlimited instead of lousy food. Instead, I can read books from my towering to-read pile. And if this whole experience sounds too much like the musings of a privileged Hispanic woman, I’ll toss in some health reasons just so it’s clear that, yes, these are the musings of a privileged Hispanic woman. Studies link the use of the backlit screens in ipads to depression and suicidality, though skeptics abound. I’m not depressed or suicidal, but I do sleep poorly. Access to distracting apps (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr) are all right there on my iPad homepage. My traditional Kindle is okay since it offers a reading experience similar to a traditional paper book and doesn’t give me access to social media, but I want to stay away from Amazon’s e-book section until it no longer calls to me like the donuts in the faculty lounge.

I haven’t officially committed to anything but already I feel anxious, like I’m about to start a diet. I want to pick a start date and then read Amazon Kindle Unlimited around the clock until then. I’m picturing a Rumspringa for Book Nerds. Before I start, I need to work out a few details. For example, I have legitimately good books from publishers and authors to read and review, many of them for the library. Maybe I’ll start my fast after I read them.

I can’t wait to start this diet! On Monday!

Life is a Dog in a Rainbow Flip Dress

Maggie Rainbow Dress

The Mister and I went to get our taxes done last week, and our preparer asked me about the blog. “I’m not doing much anymore,” I said. I shrugged my shoulders and figured it conveyed my embarrassment and disappointment as well as anything.

“That’s too bad,” she said.

“It is,” The Mister agreed.

It is. It really is, because I used to get an enormous amount of enjoyment writing here. I still do, though I tell myself I lack time to write. I don’t, not really. What I lack is the courage to carve out an area of my life that is mine and only mine, no matter what anyone else thinks.

The students found my blog. Then the parents, followed by the teachers. It’s been fine, of course, because my content is tame by anyone’s standards. I only write about dinosaur erotica on Fridays, and most people are too busy planning their weekend to catch those posts.

But, let’s say they’re back to work on Monday and don’t feel like changing another bed pan. They might make their way over here and read that post where I accidentally necked a guy during a failed side-hug. I want to warn them that they’re reading crap to avoid touching crap, and that my archives are a dangerous place where only people comfortable with the word “quirky” will feel at home. Don’t do it, I want to cry out. Your Monday will still be about poop!

If I’m being honest–and that’s my problem, I’m often honest and opinionated–I worry my writing will embarrass the boys. It’s assumed I will embarrass myself, but embarrassing the boys kind of kills me.

My solution to this problem is to censor myself and write maturely about mature things. So far, this hasn’t worked. I sit down to Adult Write and come up empty. I can’t do it. I can no more write about mortgages and how to pack a PlanetBox than I can vote for Donald Trump.* Everyone has their line in the sand.

“You should try writing again,” our tax preparer said. “It’d be good for your tax return.”

“That, and I think it’d make you happy,” said The Mister.

I’m not unhappy, per se. I’m just lacking a place to share the thoughts and stories that crowd my mind. Instagram works, but I miss punctuation and paragraphs. I miss the details. When I shared the story of Maggie and her rainbow flip dress on Instagram, I didn’t have enough room to talk about the guy in the vet’s waiting room who comes in at 9:00 am on the dot because they have coffee, and hell if he’s going to pay for the swill on the streets. I didn’t have enough room to talk about the other guy who said his wife has a fine ass, if you’re into barn doors. I didn’t have enough room to talk about the woman who dropped off her dog for teeth cleaning and said, “Mama will be right here when you wake up, Toby. Mama loves you, Toby. Mama says don’t worry, Toby. Mama knows you’ll be okay, Toby.”

Who the hell names their dog Toby?

These stories have a place on the internet because they’re the stories that earn you blank stares with people in real life. No way would I share my vet chronicles in the faculty lounge, the same way I wouldn’t admit that sometimes I see (non-hipster) people wearing sweatshirts with pictures of wolves howling at the moon, and it takes all my willpower to keep from walking up to them and asking them what’s up with the sweatshirt. Like, I really want to know more about the entire buying process. Is the wolf their favorite animal? Do they own sweatshirts featuring other animals? How hard was it to find the sweatshirt: did they stumble upon it, or did they search with intent? I assume they were Team Jacob.

Life is funny, weird, amazing, unbelievable, ugly, and awesome. Life is a dog in a rainbow flip dress, and I’m making it my job to write about it.

* I own two PlanetBoxes, which both boys have used since 1st grade. I own them and I like them, but I can’t imagine taking a picture of their contents and writing out the details every day without my brain slipping out of my ears.

Humble Brag

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I received an award from the Diocese for my “contributions to American life and the Catholic Church.” Hah! I push kids to read books, but I’ll take it. I joked with the Mister that I got the award because they couldn’t give me a parking space. 🙂

What made the night special is that my eighth grade teacher, who is now the superintendent of schools, presented me with the award. I hope she realizes what an impact she had on me so many, many years ago.

I wore this dress from Land’s End, which I bought in December for work. It came in the mail the day I found out about the award, and it looked like something I could dress up with jewelry and shoes. I put it aside just in case I didn’t find anything else that worked. I tried on 340 different outfits, bought several, and even went to my mom’s house in search of a black shawl to wear with the little black dress I bought for the occasion–my first black dress in years that didn’t have color, dots, etc. Fifteen minutes before we were supposed to leave, I pulled out Ol’ Red and immediately felt more like myself. I’m not cool enough to pull off all black. I tried, I really did, but when I looked at myself in the mirror (black dress, black shawl, black tights, black shoes) I looked like La Llorona. Forget the award ceremony, take me to the river so I can drown some kids!

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In other news, Mikey, looking very much like a slouchy tween here, is the table for Current Events/Academic Decathlon. We’re studying pretty hard around these parts. I think 6th grade is a bit too young to table for Academic Decathlon, but he earned it and the 7th grader on Current Events dropped out after the first week. Oh well. We’re also going to church, driving from here-to-there, adapting to new school/work schedules, getting ready for an accreditation visit, looking forward to Lent, and reading lots of books. Life, basically.

 

Flower Power

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Maggie

Maggie 2 Maggie 4

On Sunday we welcomed into our family a 7lb Ewok we christened Magnolia Mae Jigglypuff Kendall. Maggie, for short. Maggie isn’t the most original name for a female dog, but I had it in my head that all our pets need flower names, like Buttercup. The boys vetoed Flora, Blanche, Daisy, Petunia, and a few others.

She’s a 3.5 month cavachon and I can’t believe she’s ours. We weren’t looking for a dog, definitely not a puppy. I said a year ago that I would only consider a female cavachon*, but we never really talked about it again. I feel like one of those women who didn’t know she was pregnant until she goes into labor.

Miss Magnolia is so far fitting in nicely, though she has yet to meet Buttercup. We are getting back into the routine of having a puppy in the house again. Potty training, multiple feedings per day, and asking nicely that she please stop chewing the baseboard are now part of our day. Unlike Buddy and Buster, she seems quite taken with worn clothing. This morning I pulled out of her mouth one of Nico’s dirty socks. Not ten minutes later, she had my pajama pants in her mouth and was tearing down the hallway and into the family room, the legs undulating behind her like a floral Chinese parade dragon.

It’s good to have a dog again.

*I wanted a female dog only because I’m drowning in testosterone. I wanted a cavachon because I heard they don’t shed (they don’t!), have sweet, gentile personalities that get along well with other pets (so far, so good), and are hypoallergenic (I don’t believe for one second a living animal can be truly hypoallergenic–they aren’t tubes of mascara–but I figured what the hell).

Happy, Happy

Nico Sweater 2

Saturday

This winter has been cold enough for the boys to wear sweaters, which makes me very happy because I think little boys wearing preppy sweaters look adorable.

Sunday

We celebrated my niece’s 8th birthday, which meant more time with the cousins. The boys have been around their cousins so much lately, and I love it!

Monday

Another day off, another day organizing, baking, and reading.

Tuesday

I’m a total music mom. If the boys wanted to play 12 different instruments I probably would buy them all and chauffeur them all over town to various music lessons. But even I have my limits. Mikey discovered Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven and has been listening to it on repeat. Have you heard Moonlight Sonata? It’s, like, the most depressing song, ever. Trust a tween to find emo-classical music.  But, hey, it isn’t death metal, so I’m happy.

Wednesday

Mikey stayed home sick, and we spent the day on the couch snuggling and watching movies in between naps (for him).

Thursday

Kindergarteners, always, especially after hearing the Alan Rickman news.

Child: I don’t have my book, Mrs. Kendall.

Me: Oh, did you forget it?

Child: No, my sister has it.

Me: Your sister? How old is she?

Child: She’s two years old. [puts hand on my shoulder] But don’t worry, she doesn’t eat books.

Friday

The Mister has been out of town for a week and today he’s coming home just in time to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary! He hasn’t had to travel for two months and, wow, that two months was just long enough for me to get used to him being at home. I forgot how hard it is when he’s not home!

Have a happy, happy weekend, everyone. 🙂

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