Thursday, May 29, 2014

Matched, by Ally Condie

Okay, I have to talk about this book.  I'm missing book club this month and this is one of the main times I actually want to talk about the book I read!  So you, lucky readers, get to hear what I think.


I know we're supposed to love Ky for Cassia, but I don't.
I'm totally rooting for Xander.
I just don't think she actually loves Ky!
She never even noticed him before they were "matched."  She's just wondering what would've happened and has become obsessed.  She's intrigued and horrified by his history, so of course she wants to know more.  She's fascinated by the skills he can teach her, like writing.  Her whole opinion of life in the society is changing because of her grandpa.  But because she's found someone who knows some bad things the government's done, she thinks they're supposed to be together...?
I'm sorry, but I don't buy it.
She's intrigued by him, which eventually causes some sort of infatuation, but it's not love.
She ends one chapter with this question: 
“Is falling in love with someone’s story the same thing as falling in love with the person himself?”

The answer is no.  I love some people's stories, some couples' stories, some families' stories.  Does that mean I'm in love with all those people?  I hope not... That's a lot of people to be in love with.  I'm in love with Cinderella's story, but I am not in love with her.  

And besides, Cassia, you're not in love with Ky's story.  You're horrified by it.  You're curious about it.   You love that he trusts you with it.   It has made you question some of your previously not-thought-about beliefs, which has caused some soul searching.  But nothing in the book makes it sound like you're in love with it.  In fact, when I read that question, I thought, "What?  She's falling in love with his story?  First of all, what does that even mean?  Second of all, his story is terrible and sad!"

Cassia.  Get over it.  YOU HAVE A MATCH WHO IS AWESOME.  Stop trying to find someone else.  Your love story with Ky is not believable.  I'm open to changing my mind in the sequel, but you're going to have to be reaaaaaally convincing.

P.S. Xander, I don't think you're going to win, but I'm cheering for you.

Phew.  Thanks.  I needed to get that out there.


“Okay…how’s this for a theory,” said Ron excitedly.  “Krum attacked Crouch - 
no, wait for it - and then Stunned himself!”
“And Mr. Crouch evaporated, did he?” said Hermione coldly.”
“Oh yeah…”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Monday, May 19, 2014


This week is the last week of school.
For my older kids, the last class with me means English day.  They get to ask me whatever they want, and I get to impart some wisdom to them. :)  
Lately I've been having a lot of 5th-6th grade girls say things to me like, "Sra Johnson, you're so fun!  Sra Johnson, you're so pretty!  Sra Johnson, I love your clothes!"  So, as part of my wisdom passing this year, I wanted them to know that they can become anything they want to be and change anything they don't like about themselves.  That age is a hard time for most kids, and I hoped it would encourage them to know that I, the teacher who they look up to for her dressing and crowd-speaking skills, used to be like them.

So I told them about the middle school me.
I was soooooo shy.
I was often embarrassed.
Getting asked to stand up and do something in class made me feel sick.
I didn't dress like other girls.  I wore t-shirts and boy shorts, and for a long time my favorite thing to wear were long-sleeve button-up plaid shirts.  The boy kind, not the cute girl kind.  I thought it looked good.  WHY??
I didn't wear makeup or carry a purse or shave my legs until years after other girls did, partly because I was embarrassed of the idea of growing up.

Until I decided I didn't like being that way.
I didn't like feeling shy and embarrassed, so in seventh grade I started the process of changing that about myself.  I now make a living talking in front of groups of people.  
I didn't like feeling self-conscious about my clothes and hair, so I watched "What Not To Wear" and paid attention, and now I usually feel (and look) pretty good.  

Listen up, world, because this is important.
If there's something you don't love about yourself, YOU CAN CHANGE IT.

I told that to my classes today, and I hope one of those kids took it to heart because I love them and it is TRUE.
I also said, as I was looking directly into the eyes of the people I wanted most to hear me, "I want you to know that you are about 100,000% cooler than you think you are."

Do you know how heart-breaking it is to say that and then see a shy girl shake her head "no"?

It's devastating.

So I corrected myself.
"I don't mean cool popular.  Most of you probably have an accurate idea of how popular you are or are not.  When I was in middle school, I had friends, but I was not popular.  I also didn't think I was very cool.  Now, I think I'm awesome! and I'm not that different than when I was in middle school.  I was cooler then than I knew.
I mean cool awesome.
And let me tell you this - 
Just because there are people around you who don't like you, doesn't mean you're not likable.
You are."

Listen up, world, because this is true.
You are more awesome than you sometimes think you are.
You are likable.  You are lovable.  
You may not be popular.  There may be people around you in this part of your life who don't like you. That doesn't make you unlikable.

Do you know how encouraging it was to hear girls say, "You're like me!"?  It made me hope they remember today.
The last question came from a girl.  She doesn't wear makeup, she doesn't do much to her hair, she's not friends with many girls, and she dresses kind of like a boy.  Some of her boy friends (not boyfriends:) were teasing her as I was describing my middle school self because she's similar in many ways.

"When you were growing up, did you hang out with boys?"
"M, I hung out with boys until I got married."
And then she smiled.


Harry told Hermione exactly what had happened after he had left the Gryffindor table the night before.  To his immense relief, Hermione accepted his story without question.  "Well, of course I knew you hadn’t entered yourself," she said when he’d finished telling her about the scene in the chamber off the Hall.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Tuesday, May 13, 2014



Have you ever tried to reinforce one million personal goals
while finishing school as the teacher of 600 students?
Me neither.

And thus begins a different goal for this month.
Instead of trying to keep up with goals previously established, 
this month's goal is to
finish the school year with grace.

It's okay if things aren't done perfectly!
It's okay if there are scheduling errors!
It's okay if we ate macaroni and cheese and/or pizza a hundred times this week!
Finish the school year with grace.

All I can say is, I know exactly what I'm going to be doing on May 23.
Hellooooooooo, Hallmark Christmas movies.


“May I introduce - incredible though it may seem - the fourth Triwizard champion?”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Did you think my May goal was to give up blogging?  Guess again!  :)

First, let me address my goal for Lent, since that started last month but finished in April.  I did it!  No eating out because I didn't feel like cooking!  We still ate out, but when I didn't feel like cooking, we ate leftovers or salad or I learned a new recipe, and it went really well.  I'm hoping to keep that goal going.  Eating out's expensive!

Now, for my March goals:
1. Say personal prayer before bed.
2. Exercise every weekday.

Say personal prayer before bed.
I used to do this all the time, no problem.  Somewhere along the way, though, I fell out of the habit.  I don't know when.  I know it got more difficult when I started sleeping in beds kept on cinder blocks or that were otherwise tall, because my favorite praying position for personal prayers is against the bed.  With a tall bed, I can't reach the top when I'm on knees and it's uncomfortable.  Not less comfortable; uncomfortable.  Anyway, the important thing is, this was a good goal for me.  I wasn't 100% at it, but it was good for me to recognize the situation and consciously work to correct it.  

Exercise every weekday.
Wow!  I give a lot of credit to those of you who do this.  It's hard to make the time!  The easiest time, of course, is early in the morning, before I have time to procrastinate it.  That's also the hardest time, what with getting up early.  :)  Some days I exercised before work, others after, and many days I rode my bike to and from work to get it in then.  It became more difficult when someone else in my household with a much different schedule wanted to join in, because then I had to choose between actually doing it and trying to figure out a time every day that would work for both of us.  The times that were convenient for me (and that guaranteed I'd get it in) weren't convenient for that person.  I learned I'm better at exercising independently (unless there's group that meets every day at the same time and that time works for my schedule).  

I'd say I was about 85% on each of these goals.  I do have to say, though, that I feel a lot better.  It was interesting - I didn't expect that to be a benefit of Lent or Goal #2.  I kind of hoped I'd see a difference, but I didn't expect to feel one.  But less fast food - even though we still had some - and more exercising - even though I often did the bare minimum :) - made me feel better.  Better energy- / health-wise and better about myself.  So that was cool. 

As far as May goes, here's what I've decided.  I said in January that "My hope is that doing each mini goal for a month will help make it a habit, but even if none of them turn into habits, I'll still be on track."  I since have amended my views.  I want these goals to become habits.  During the month of May, then, I'll be working on doing all the goals I've done until this point.  It will be hard, but I've been trying to anyway, so I'm hoping that helps.  It will be a lot to remember, though... Wish me luck!  :)


“But Hogwarts is hidden,” said Hermione in surprise.  “Everyone knows that…well, everyone who’s read Hogwarts, A History, anyway.” 
“Just you, then,” said Ron.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire