Book Review: I am Malala

Last Wednesday, I told my students that I wasn’t sure the Nobel Peace Prize would be awarded this year because I wasn’t sure who really deserved it. On Friday, I learned that it is awarded to Malala Yousafzai, and as a woman and a teacher, I’m beyond thrilled. To me, she is exactly the sort of person who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

People who know me well know that education is extremely important to me. This probably isn’t surprising given that I am a teacher. Also given that I’m a woman, it’s probably relatively unsurprising that I have really strong feelings about the education of women. (If you’re wondering, I very firmly believe that all girls should have access to education.) Based on this, it’s probably not surprising that I am admire Malala Yousafzai.

I’ve been meaning to reading her book, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, for a while now. And after she  won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, I bought it. Yesterday, after I finished reading Mindy’s book, I sat down to read Malala’s book. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was hooked. While I know the outlines of her story, I was captivated by the details. I was intrigued by the history of her nation, her culture, and her family. I think I finished the book in about three and a half hours.

As I read, it was easy to forget that the author of the book was a teenager. The prose is intelligent and mature. Yousafzai doesn’t shy aware from difficult topics. But she’s honest and thought-provoking. She’s optimistic but also realistic. I enjoyed seeing her perspective on the current situation in her nation. She doesn’t shy aware from criticizing the West for the role we have played in creating Pakistan’s current state, but she also doesn’t shy away from critiquing people within her own country and other nearby countries.

I highly recommend this book. It was educational and entertaining at the same time. It’s definitely a must-read. (And it’s on my list of books that I’d totally buy a hard copy of if only had more bookshelf space in my bedroom. But before I deal with that problem, I have a shoe storage problem I need to sort, which is another blog post for another day.)

Tl;dr? Read the book. It’s awesome.

Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

A few weeks ago, I sat down and binge-watched the entire first two seasons of The Mindy Project. This project took me about five days, but I did it. About five episodes into this binge, I ran upstairs and asked my roommate J why the heck no one had ever told me how much I would like this show. She replied that she had just assumed that I already knew about it.

But no, I didn’t. And now that I’ve heard of it (and seen every episode at least once), I love it. I described it recently to a friend as “what a TV show about my life would be like…if I was an OB-GYN in New York City who was okay with casual sex.” I’m not okay with casual sex, but that’s not the point of the story I’m telling you. Basically, the point is that I fell in love with Mindy Kaling. Like pretty much every other single twenty-something in America (or probably on earth), I am convinced that a) Mindy and I were meant to be best friends and b) we absolutely must meet so that we can be best friends.

Therefore, I decided that I had to read her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). I finally finished reading it today, and I have to say that I love it. It was honest, funny, and relatable.

Kaling’s book is well-written. I suppose that it’s no surprise that a Dartmouth grad who wrote for The Office is a good writer, but I have to say that. Kaling’s prose is humorous, witty, and intelligent. Kaling is every aware of who she is and what she is. She doesn’t try to sugarcoat things or tell you that she’s something that she’s not. She’s brutally honest about what it’s like to be a young female writer/actress who doesn’t fit Hollywood’s cookie-cutters. She’s honest about what it’s like to be a young, single woman in a world filled with boys, or what my friend H calls “man-children,” instead of men, which H calls “men.” Her approach is entertaining and comforting. I could see myself having a conversation with her about these topics over coffee or drinks.

My favorite thing about the book is Kaling’s perspective on life. She addresses the difference between an “adult boy” and a man, a topic that I’ve discussed with my girlfriends plenty of times, but I really appreciated seeing that someone outside of my own circles. Her list of “best friend requirements” cracked me up. I appreciated her self-awareness and also her willingness to utilize self-deprecation. The book really felt like a friend to me.

The book probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Kaling isn’t afraid to talk about the less than glamorous aspects of her life-although she does approach them with a great sense of humor. She isn’t trying to present her readers with some great “This is the Meaning of Life” thesis or “This is how you MUST live your life if you want to be successful/glamorous/well-liked etc.” She just tells the reader what her own life has been like and does so in a brilliantly entertaining (to me) manner.

If you’re looking for something that’s fun and entertaining, I recommend it. I think it’s a great book for women to read. And I could see plenty of guys enjoying it too.

Instant September

I decided it would be fun to show you some of my September through the lens of my Instagram feed. (Feel free to follow me!) It isn’t a detailed commentary on my month, but it gives a fun (at least to me) view of what I’ve been doing this month.

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Revisiting one of my favorite books (The Swan Thieves) yet again…I love books that are like old friends.

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Start of school wish from the neighborhood elementary school

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Working on pattern photos for an upcoming fall pattern release

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Seriously loving this color combo #knitting #maizenblue

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What the dark blue was really for…I love this project.

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Baby dress in progress…the FO is gorgeous.

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All done! (I get to give this to its rightful owner next Saturday. I’m so excited.)

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  Finished baby dress…I love this.

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Just starting my lady sunnyside…I’m really liking cables in ravine

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   Comerica Park…the happiest place on earth

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   Love. (Rick Porcello, my Tiger.)

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  Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

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win or lose…I’ll always love you. #baseball #detroitpride #tigers

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We want a (blackberry) shrubbery!

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Behold a shrubbery!

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Soy blackberry latte…happy Michaelmas to me!

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Blocking on my bed…part of me wants to keep this.

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They actually spelled my name correctly.

Fall 2014 Bucket List

I’ve come to the conclusion that fall is probably my favorite season. So I’m making myself a fall 2014 to-do list. I’m posting it here, and I’ll be updating it periodically on my blog and occasionally on my instagram feed.

  1. Visit Grand Rapids.
  2. Apple picking
  3. Make a homemade apple pie
  4. Pumpkin ale
  5. Long walks
  6. Cozy scarves and cowls…maybe at least one that I made?
  7. Boots and jeans
  8. Caramel apples
  9. Pumpkin pie
  10. Pumpkin spice lattes
  11. Photoshoot in a leaf pile…maybe for a new design?
  12. Fall cookies
  13. A nature walk with the camera
  14. Make a sweater in November (National Sweater Month)

So that’s my fall 2014 bucket list thus far. What should I add?  What’s on yours?

Evelyn Sneak Peak

Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly but surely working on a new pattern. It’s a cowl, and I’ve named it Evelyn. My first design sample is done; actually it has been for a while. And I thought I’d share two snaps of it with the Internet. I’m working on making a second cowl at the moment to make sure that the pattern is accurate, and then I’m hoping to have it ready for publication by late October.

But for now…meet Evelyn! I knit her on size 5 needles with a bit less than a skein of Tanis Fiber Arts puple label in the gorgeous colorway Stained Glass from a December Etsy update.

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Happy Saturday, and happy knitting!

(If you’re wondering, the book in my hands is Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos.)

 

 

My Dream Job

I’ve said for a long time that my dream job would something that allowed me to read books, talk about the books that I’ve read or am reading, and drink copious amounts of tea. I feel like this fits beautifully with the name of my blog. 

People have frequently replied that this sounds like my job as a high school English teacher, the job that I held until recently. I can see how that would make sense. I had a relatively captive audience sitting and theoretically listening while I babbled about literature. But here’s the thing. I want to have conversions where all of the participants are engaged. And I know that many of my students weren’t engaged. That may have been was my fault at some level. I could have AND should have done more to get them engaged in the material. But regardless of their initial level of interest, not all of my students had the same interests as I did. No matter how passionate I am about Jane Austen, some of those kids are just never going to be interested in her. And I want to have conversations with people who WANT to have these conversations, not people who HAVE to have these conversations. 

I like teaching. I enjoy teaching. And maybe someday, I will be a teacher again. I don’t think that I am a teacher right now. I’m not teaching anyone. But this “job” that I’m talking about, this isn’t teaching. This is the creation of some sort of community (either online or in the “real world”) where lovers of literature and culture could meet and exchange ideas. I realize that the Internet as a whole is somewhat like this. And this also sounds somewhat like a book club. 

But I think I want something more than this. I want to have a physical space where people gather and exchange ideas and books. I want to create a space where people can gather to exchange books and ideas. I imagine this to be some sort of hybrid bookshop/cafe/pub. I want to create a haven for people, a place where they can come and feel safe. I want this space to be a sort of home away from home for people, a place where they can come to escape from their troubles and whatnot and just be. I want to create a cozy space, a homey space where people can come sit by a fire with a book and a cup of tea or sit with a group of people and talk about their lives or the books they’re reading. 

I want to create a place where people can uphold one another and enjoy one another. I want to provide people with a place where they can enjoy life. I want a place with lovely old bookshelves and comfortable chairs and delightful people. I want a place that restores and renews. That’s what I want. That’s my dream job. 

Now all I need is the money to make my dream a reality. 

Do Anything

I’m in a state of flux at the moment. My life is not going in the direction that i might have hoped or expected. I’m not sure what’s next for me, but I’m also not sure that’s a bad thing.

I’ve said before that I have a my dream job. Well, I had it, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I don’t anymore. And that’s not the easiest thing in the world to face. It’s very, very hard. I’ve had one of my biggest and oldest dreams taken from me. And now I have to find a new dream.

And that’s scary. That’s big and it’s scary and it’s real. I have to find a new dream. I have to move in a new direction. And I don’t like that. I like being in a comfortable, familiar place. I like doing what I always do. I like knowing what’s coming next. I think that’s fairly normal for humans.

And I don’t have that right now. I don’t have a real plan that goes beyond September. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life anymore. I don’t know what I’m going to be. I could go to grad school. I could (try to) write a book. I could work in a bookstore or a coffeeshop or I could hitchhike through Europe. As one of my former coworkers told me in June, I can do anything with my life.

The question remains though…what will I do? I don’t know yet. As I said earlier, I know what I’m doing at least through September, and I do have some idea of what I’ll be doing until next June or so. I’ll still be reading and knitting and drinking tea-all of those things that I do so well. But now I need to either find a way to turn those things that I do well into a way to earn a living or I need to figure out what else I do well.

So I can do anything. But where will that lead me?