Category Archives: just because

A Day in the Life

27th March 2015


I just love Trish. Her blogging is always so honest and refreshing, and I truly feel like I know her and definitely count her a friend. So when she announced that she wanted to host a blog event, I thought I should try and get my act together. Alas, this week has been…a bit crazy, so I’m just now sitting down to do this Friday morning. But I still want to jump in! My days vary a good bit, depending on the semester, the point in the semester, etc., but it means my work is never boring. So here is the day in the life of…a writing center director.

6:20 a.m.: Wake up because the pup is moving around. I know I need to take her out, but if I pet her in her cozy little bed, I can usually get her back to sleep for a bit.


7 a.m.: I get up and take Maddie out for her morning constitutional. This week is very humid with just a little (final) chill in the air, so I break out my fuzzy pink robe for this. If my neighbors catch me, I’ll just pretend I don’t see them.

7:20 a.m.: I know I shouldn’t, but I hop back under the covers – just to warm up! Then I quickly make the bed. This is a MUST.

7:30 a.m.: Pick out clothes; toss them on. Wash face, brush teeth, put in contacts, pull hair back. Do makeup. Breakfast! This week has been scrambled eggs, black beans, and pepperoncini rings. Yum. Clean up. Fill water bottles.

8:10 a.m.: My “get your ass in gear” alarm goes off. Prep work bag. Put on shoes. Give the pup kisses and a treat.

8:15 a.m.-8:21 a.m.: I never know where this time goes. It just flies by.

8:21 a.m. to 8:29 a.m.: Drive to work (and yes, be jealous. I live super close to work. If it wasn’t a horrible biking town, I’d bike there).

8:30 a.m.: Roll into the office in the university library.

8:35 a.m.: Check Facebook to make sure all friends have survived the evening and no new pregnancies/engagements. Check email. Respond to email. Tap my toes waiting for college student employees to show up (the Center opens at 9).

9:05 a.m.-9:10 a.m.: Greet student employees. Talk about anything that has to be done that day.

9:10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.: Respond to any lingering emails from the day before/morning. Clean up inbox a bit. Organize to-do list. Check Filofax for tasks. Add anything new from incoming emails. A professor checked yesterday to see if he could bring in his class for a special assignment. Facilitate group tutoring sessions. Talk to professor about a National Poetry Month event for April.


10:30 a.m.: Check my favorite blogs.

10:45 a.m.: Get back to working on a Prezi for an APA presentation I’m giving for the nursing department on Monday. Decide template.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 10.45.16 AM

11 a.m.: Professor comes back in for update on NaPoMo event.

11:10 a.m.: Continue going through flagged APA manual to determine organization for Prezi. Reorganize layout of Prezi.


11:30 a.m.: Prof comes in again to ask a question about NaPoMo event. Agree to check on availability of space and get back to him. (Get a little frustrated by the interruption.)

11:45 a.m.: Keep working on presentation.

12:30 p.m. Grab sharp cheddar and almonds and check Facebook while I eat.

12:40 p.m.: Back to work.

1:20 p.m.: Check with 6th floor about space for NaPoMo event. Figure out availability. Call professor to confirm.

1:40 p.m.: Back to my office. A former student comes in to catch up and ask for help on a research assignment.

1:45 p.m.: Continue work on presentation.

2 p.m.: A new ESL student comes in to ask questions about the WC. I had visited her class the day before, and she wants to know if the tutors can help her with her daily journal assignment. I tell her yes and set her an appointment.

2:15 p.m.: One of the tutors comes in to ask if she can have some time off because she has a relative in the hospital.

2:30 p.m.: View slide show thus far to see flow for presentation on Monday. Looking good, but I need to create sample documents. Create sample documents with pull outs to explain different elements.

3 p.m.: Check online class for emails and discussion board posts. I need to grade, but that will have to wait for this weekend.

3:30 p.m.: The boyfriend texts to see if I’m leaving anytime soon. Find a stopping place. Leave desk entirely too messy. Pack up.

4 p.m.: Home.

4:15 p.m.: Change clothes. Let Maddie out. Plop myself on the sofa in my bedroom and read. The book I’m reading doesn’t hold my attention, so I switch to a new one. Check email (always a mistake). Presentation for Monday is cancelled. Kind of feel like crying. Headache worse. Correspond with the author I’m working on an editing project with.

5:15 p.m.: Boyfriend is hungry. I am too, so we run to the store. We made spaghetti for the week, but he wants wine, and even though my head aches, it still sounds good. As does French bread. And chocolate.

5:45 p.m.: Food! Wine! Things are looking up. Clean up after dinner while talking to the bff on the phone. Feed the dog. Let her out.

6:45 p.m.: Hot bath. Take the wine with me. Pick up a nonfic book I keep beside the tub for bathtime.

7:45 p.m.: Last episode of Empire (addictive). Season finale of The Mindy Project (felt a bit scattered). New episode of The Flash (so damn good). We only watch TV once a week and usually on Friday, but I have to judge a UIL competition Friday, so tonight it is.


10:40 p.m.: Think about reading. Too tired. Lights out.

Thoughts: Man, some days I have no interruptions. Others… It’s all part of the job, and I love working with students, but days like today feel a little futile because I know I could be finished with a project much faster with my door closed. But I never liked when my boss closed the door, so I try to always keep it open. Maybe I should institute “door closed” time.

Also, evenings are hardly ever so lazy. Usually, it’s P90X or a bike ride for a few hours followed by a beer on the porch until the sun goes down. Not today. I needed to decompress.

Thanks, Trish! It kind of feels good to see what I’ve actually accomplished in a day – even if it doesn’t feel like much.



Fridays at Home: West Elm Under $20

14th June 2013

I’m not big on catalogs. For the most part, they clog up the mailbox and require a trip to the recycling center. But each month when my West Elm catalog comes, I stash it away with my Real Simple and wait for a lazy afternoon by the pool. Even though West Elm is, for the most part, way out of my budget range, it still gives me crazy good ideas. Plus, when they have sales, I play “catch and release” online, adding items to my shopping cart only to usually close out the page, convincing myself I don’t really need that gorgeous throw.

But today! Today I got an email that they’re having a sale, and on top of that sale, if you use the promotion code JUNE15, you get an extra 15% off. So I’ll just share some of the great sale items that have popped out at me.


The favorite throw – depending on the color or stripe variation you want this throw is on sale for $19.99. I love having a throw on my reading sofas in case it’s chilly or I’m in need of a reading nap. 🙂 Plus, they look nice and can cover all manner of sins, ahem, a stack of books or papers on a chair if company drops in.


I love this outdoor pillow for $19.99 in Sunburst/lemon curry. In fact, I really want it for the bed in my guest room/office. Pillows can be so expensive, but they can also make a great difference on a bed, chair, or sofa. One thing I’m super strict about is my bed. I make it every morning. In fact, I won’t get into bed at night if I haven’t first made my bed. Strange, I know, but part of that is the pillows. I love my decorative pillows and don’t feel the bed looks “finished” without them.


One of the things I’ve learned through many trips and the big purses I like to carry is that smaller bags to corral like items are essential. Depending on the size these Metallic Zipper Cases range from $5.99 to $7.99, and you can add a monogram for $7. These are extra great for moving lotions, sunscreens, etc. from a purse to a beach bag for an afternoon poolside. They make my organized self happy.


These Bright Shapes Melamine Plates in orange, fuschia, and yellow are only $2.99 and great for rounding up earrings, bobby pins, ponytail holders or whatever. I keep pretty bowls or plates on my nightstand, on the edge of my tub, in my favorite reading places. I find the places where I naturally remove those things and stick a bowl there. Makes it much easier to locate errant knick knacks. we2 we1

The Belize Stripe Hand Towel and Hammam Stripe Hand Towel are both $7.99 (you can add the monogram for an additional $7) and really lovely. These would be great in a kitchen or bathroom and would look nice sitting on an island or countertop. Though I use heavy duty, relatively inexpensive towels for heavy use in my kitchen (I don’t use paper towels for environmental reasons), I love having pretty hand towels as well. These are great!


This Owl String Holder is so cute for $9.99. Even if you’re not crafty, I think he’d be adorable on a collage wall. Plus, I love white ceramic animals.

The best part of all these? Free shipping! And don’t forget the JUNE15 code for an additional 15% off. Also, please know West Elm isn’t paying me. I’m sure they don’t even know who I am. I just love a good sale and thought I’d share!

So do you see anything you have to have, or will you just play catch and release? Hope you had fun window shopping. 🙂

Nook, Kindle Deals I Spy

28th February 2013

I remember when I first got my Nook, how excited I was to download cheap books…until I realized that they aren’t all that cheap. I searched for ways to find the less expensive books and was faced with a whole lot of half naked men and women in the “under $2.99” section.

But we all know we are on the hunt for a deal, whether it’s because we’ve enforced a book-buying ban, or the hubs/wife isn’t happy about another bookstore bag, or because we just can’t help ourselves and need a book right now.

Well, depending on what you guys think (let me know if you like this in comments), I’ll cull the “under $2.99” bargain bin and tell you which ebooks I loved and on which I’d just risk it. Hey, the most you’re out is one morning’s latte. 🙂

Via Goodreads

Via Goodreads

Lamb by Christopher Moore $1.99

Nook edition

Kindle edition

I remember reading this the first time in college after a teacher recommended it. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Friend is easily one of the funniest books I’ve read. Ever. Because we all know about Jesus changing the water to wine and all that jazz, but what about those in-between years? You know, when Jesus was practicing how to raise things from the dead.

Lamb is a wildly fun and heartfelt look what could have happened and how Biff influenced Jesus.

Highly recommended.

Via Goodreads

Via Goodreads

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey $2.99

Nook edition

Kindle edition

So…this is awkward. I just wrote a post on how ridiculous I think retellings of Jane Eyre are. And then I go and add it here. Let me say this: the cover of this one intrigued me long before I knew it was based on Jane Eyre.

Then, Natalie of Coffee and a Book Chick reviewed it.

At $2.99, I find myself tempted.

Via Goodreads

Via Goodreads

Ireland by Frank Delaney $1.99

Nook edition

Kindle edition

This is one I bought ages ago and haven’t read yet (I should actually go on a book-buying ban), but I thought it sounded amazing. It’s a stories about stories:

From Barnes & Noble: In the winter of 1951, a storyteller, the last practitioner of an honored, centuries-old tradition, arrives at the home of nine-year-old Ronan O’Mara in the Irish countryside. For three wonderful evenings, the old gentleman enthralls his assembled local audience with narratives of foolish kings, fabled saints, and Ireland’s enduring accomplishments before moving on. But these nights change young Ronan forever, setting him on a years-long pursuit of the elusive, itinerant storyteller and the glorious tales that are no less than the saga of his tenacious and extraordinary isle.


Via Goodreads

Via Goodreads

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear $1.99

Nook edition

Kindle edition

Oh, Maisie Dobbs, I love you so. Elegy for Eddie is the 2012 installment of the Maisie Dobbs series, and the storm clouds of World War II are gathering. In the midst of this is Eddie, a young man with developmental problems but a way with horses. When he’s killed in an accident that his friends think is anything but, Maisie determines to bring dignity and justice to Eddie. But even Maisie has to admit that sometimes justice fails in the face of something much larger.

My review.

Highly recommended. (Buy it, and then check out the rest of the series.)

Via Goodreads

Via Goodreads

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin $2.99

Nook edition

Kindle edition

Tales of the City reads like the best of gossip columns. Mrs. Madrigal is the landlord of 28 Barbary Place, overseeing her tenants like Mary Poppins, but instead of a spoonful of sugar, she gives out the harder stuff, but only when necessary. Under her benevolent gaze, Mary Ann, a quiet midwesterner new to San Francisco; Michael, a gay romantic; and Brian, the swinger all have a chance to bloom and come into their own. Magical and addictive, Tales of the City is a fantastic reading experience.

My review.

Highly recommended.

Via Goodreads

Via Goodreads

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walters $2.99

Nook edition

Kindle edition

From Barnes & Noble:

A few years ago, small-time finance journalist Matthew Prior quit his day job to gamble everything on a quixotic notion: a Web site devoted to financial journalism in the form of blank verse. When his big idea—and his wife’s eBay resale business— ends with a whimper (and a garage full of unwanted figurines), they borrow and borrow, whistling past the graveyard of their uncertain dreams. One morning Matt wakes up to find himself jobless, hobbled with debt, spying on his wife’s online flirtation, and six days away from losing his home. Is this really how things were supposed to end up for me, he wonders: staying up all night worried, driving to 7-Eleven in the middle of the night to get milk for his boys, and falling in with two local degenerates after they offer him a hit of high-grade marijuana?

Or, he thinks, could this be the solution to all my problems?

I haven’t read this, but I’m intrigued, especially as Jess Walters is getting a lot of attention right now for the novel Beautiful Ruins.


P.S. I don’t make any money if you buy these titles. Just knew if I found good titles, you guys might enjoy them, too.

“Like Jane Eyre But Without the Crazy Wife”

21st February 2013

Twitter is a fascinating beast for many reasons, and I find some really great articles and stories there. Last week, though, I found something that piqued my interest…and led me to bemoan the “retelling” of classics yet again.

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels of all time, partly because it’s the first “big book” I read, way back in 4th grade, and though I had no clue how to pronounce rendezvous, I did know an epic story when I read it. From time to time, I read about retellings of Jane Eyre, and I cringe and look away, vowing never to pick up said book. Inevitably, these books will not live up to the original, and honestly, why should I waste my time if that’s the case? Don’t even get me started on the erotic retelling…Jane Eyre Laid Bare. [Just typing this makes me ill.]

I much prefer novels that may be reminiscent of certain novels or themes while having intrigue and beauty all their own. For example, Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca has been compared to Jane Eyre with some pretty obvious and interesting differences.

So what did I see last week? A tweet about a writer who has retold the story of Jane. Read the post if you like, but my reaction was much like the takeaway from diet soda advertisements: “Same great taste! Fewer calories!” Similarly, my take on the author’s post: “Like Jane Eyre but fun! And without the crazy wife!”

You can imagine my consternation. One of the most problematic aspects of Jane Eyre is that poor, crazy wife, Bertha. So much so that Jean Rhys wrote Wide Sargasso Sea in an attempt to give Bertha a bit of screen time herself. Bertha Mason lends the novel its horror and its complexity. She is also the reason so many rail against it and why many cannot understand the allure of Mr. Rochester. Without her, without the obstacle of Jane and Rochester’s union, it’s just another romance novel. Jane isn’t a typical Harlequin heroine, ripped away from the one she loves because of a misunderstanding or a silly fight over his possessiveness. She tears herself away out of a sense of right and wrong, leaving the only place where she has ever felt at home.

And you want to make Jane Eyre fun? Well, ok, I guess, but could you stop the references to a heartwrenching novel that chronicles the actual problems of a young woman with no family and no home? Just call it a novel, and be done with it.

In the meantime, I’m going to go read my novel that’s like Jane Eyre in every way except the English countryside, an orphan, a crazy wife, and a hunky man. Excuse me.

Posterizing the Classics

4th September 2012

I must admit I’ve never thought of myself as a minimalist. However, lately that’s where my preference lies, whether in prose, decor, or art. Any book that is too wordy or that appears to be trying so doggone hard is bound to be set aside quickly.

I came across an interesting post on Pixel Curse from last year, “45 Creative & Clever Minimalist Book Cover Designs.” [If you’re a Harry Potter fan, get ready to swoon over the minimalist series covers.] Going through them reminded me of these great posters by artist Christian Jackson:

Click on the image to be taken to imagekind where they are sold.

What struck me about the book covers and these posters is the distillation of the spirit of the book. Each manages to (mostly) successfully take the book and through simplistic graphics, deliver the message or at least indicate a mainstay in the book’s plot. I think that Alice in Wonderland and Rumpelstiltskin are particularly genius, especially as with Alice you have both the Cheshire and the Pink Floyd reference. That’s masterful.

But then I began to wonder about some of my favorite books undergoing the same treatment. What is the essence of Jane Eyre, for example? Or Invisible Man? Or East of Eden?

The most popular image for Jane Eyre at the moment, is a birdcage with its door open, based on this line: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me.” So net = cage apparently. But what the Etsy-ers and the tattoo artists are misunderstanding is that Jane says she isn’t a bird. So why all the bird imagery? Methinks it’s because birds are popular in decor at the moment, but also because it’s simple. So if not birds and birdcages, what? The Red Room scene has always particularly fascinated me, as has the intensity with which Jane guards her freedom, so I’m thinking a lock, a la [warning: I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination]:

No, this is not Optimus Prime, as some of you on Instagram thought.

Then of course for Invisible Man, I’d want it to be the recommendation letter that Dr. Bledsoe writes for the narrator because in many ways, that letter determines so much of the narrator’s path. So I’d want the cover to look like this:

A bit blurry, but you get the idea.

But neither is still quite right. I don’t look at either and think Jane Eyre or Invisible Man. What exactly is it, then? And how do the artists so aptly illustrate such meaning with such simplicity? It’s definitely art. Think of your favorite book and try to distill it into one simple image. Can you do it?