Tag Archives: book group

Atchoo! Atchoum! Hatschie!


The title of my post refers to the sound you make when you sneeze (in English, French and German respectively). Yup, I’ve got allergies again. Ugh! This is awful. Will there ever be an end to whatever it is in the air that’s making me so miserable?! I refuse to take any anti-histamines, as I like to avoid medication whenever possible. Instead, I’ve just been using my neti pot. Apparently neti pots have been flying off the shelves ever since Oprah featured them on her show last year.

Sometimes I realize just how much Midwestern Man must really love me because he actually sat in the bathroom and watched me use my neti pot, and appeared not to be grossed out. For those of you who don’t know what a neti pot is, you’re essentially washing your nose out. It doesn’t look pretty. Snot just drips out everywhere.

I wonder if there will be a time when Midwestern Man and I will feel comfortable taking a shit in front of each other. It would almost be kind of endearing and sweet if we could. I don’t know if I could ever do it, though. Whenever I was in the early stages of a relationship, I always hated having to take a crap in my boyfriend’s place. I’d be really worried he’d hear the “plop” sound, so much so that I’d stuff the loo with toilet paper to disguise it! Ha ha! When I lived in Berlin, I knew this Swiss girl who told me that she once spent three whole days at her new boyfriend’s house, and didn’t take a shit the whole time because she was too worried about stinking up the bathroom! The shit she had when she got back home must have been the most enjoyable of her life! It’s funny because that detail is the only thing I really remember about that girl. I’ve forgotten everything else about her.

Wow, how on earth did I get started writing about shit? Not that I mind that really, but that wasn’t the plan for tonight’s post. No, instead I was just going to say “goodnight” (I’m off to bed to read) and to tell you to recommend a book for my new Blogger Bookgroup idea. Come on! Stop dilly-dallying, people! Just do it!


Bookgroup anyone?

Wow, I’m exhausted. My “lifestyle change” (# 4,127) hasn’t gone too well. I stupidly drank a strong cup of coffee around 10:00 p.m., which meant that I wasn’t ready to go to bed until 4:30 a.m. And, then, even when I was actually in bed, I didn’t fall asleep until around 5:00 a.m. I had to get up at 7:30 a.m. to get ready for volunteering in a middle school, so I’m pretty tired.

Today’s volunteering session went well without any of the 6th-grade students making a racial slur. Phew. I think one of the boys in my group did call me stupid at one point, though, which I couldn’t really do anything about – first of all, I wasn’t really sure and, secondly, the teacher didn’t seem to have a handle on discipline in the classroom herself. This is the crappy thing about being a volunteer or a class tutor. The teachers always say that we can discipline the kids if we want to, but the kids know that, ultimately, we have no authority over them and that they can pretty much say or do what they like with impunity. Sigh.

I actually thought it was pretty awful that the teacher allowed some of the students to get out of their seats while she was trying to talk to the class. They weren’t running around the classroom going crazy or anything, but their movements were still pretty distracting. I could tell it bothered some of the other volunteers, too, probably because they, like me, were never allowed to get off with that kind of shit in school. I have no idea if this is just an American problem, or if discipline has gone to the dogs in schools in Scotland, too, but I was flabbergasted the first time I set foot in an American high school and saw some of the things the kids are allowed to do. The worst thing is the constant fucking bathroom breaks. The wee fuckers are in and out of their seats every two seconds asking for a bloody bathroom pass. Some teachers are really strict about not allowing bathroom breaks during class time, but there are others who are far too lenient. Is there some reason for this? I’m assuming that most kids have day-time bladder control by the age of six, so can someone please tell me why a fifteen-year-old can’t sit in a fifty-minute-long class without going to the bathroom? Grrrrr.

However, I digress. Back to my geting called stupid…

This happened because one of the boys was being a naughtly little pain in the arse, and was talking gibberish about eating a “stick”. I listened to what he said, and nodded, believing him, because I thought he had said “steak” (he was Latino with a pretty strong accent). Between my accent and their accent, God knows what’s going to happen when we actually start discussing literature together.

The “stick eating” episode reminded me of my own days as an eleven-year-old in school. The girls in my group today were quiet, shy and seemed interested in me and what I was doing there whereas the boys acted up as much as they possibly could. There was a noticeable difference in maturity – both physical and emotional. This is exactly how I remember the first few years of secondary school in Scotland. I was there to work and learn, and I hated the way the boys’ behaviour took up valuable instruction time. To be honest, I’m still not wildly enthusiastic about boys between the ages of eleven to fourteen. Their childishness just annoys me, plain and simple. This is not a good feeling to be having, given that I want to be a teacher, so I guess I just need to repeat a mantra to myself again and again: “They can’t help it. It’s just where nature intends them to be developmentally. They can’t help it. It’s just where nature intends them to be developmentally”.

If you’re wondering how the above fits into the title of today’s post, well, it doesn’t at all… I never intended to write quite so much about volunteering. I have been thinking, though, that it might be nice to start my very own blogger bookgroup, the idea being that some (or all!) of my readers and I would pick one book to read a month (preferably one readily available in most English-speaking countries), then write down our thoughts about it in the comment section. To make it fair to all parties concerned, all members of the group would suggest a book they’re interested in reading each month, and I could put up a poll to choose the most popular. How does this sound?

If anyone is interested, I would like to suggest that we should have chosen, and finished reading and commenting on the book by the last day of each month (I would write a post that day, or perhaps a couple of days before that, outlining my own thoughts, and then the members could comment…or, better still, I could even have guest bloggers who write the post, so it’s not all about me). There’s not enough time to acquire and read a book by the end of this month, so our first online discussion could be on or around Monday November 30th.

So, whaddya think? If you’re interested, just leave a comment on this post and please also leave a book suggestion(s) for November.

Here are mine:

(1) First of all, there’s “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich:


(2) And, then, secondly, there’s “The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss:


I shall be awaiting your comments, and suggestions!


carrie Ever since dropping out of my teacher certification program, I’ve been feeling somewhat depressed. I’m probably always suffering from some kind of low-level depression, but now I’m starting to develop a sense of hopelessness. I’m an intense person, and unless I have some future goal to work towards and absorb my attention and energy, I tend to become self-absorbed, negative and obsessive about all the wrong kinds of things.

Today I thought I was having a major depressive episode because all I wanted to do was curl up under the covers and die. There is too much of the Calvinist in me, though, to let myself do that, so instead I forced myself to sit at my computer, ostensibly to answer “massage emails”. What I actually ended up doing was looking at pointless stuff on the internet. Today I learned all about male-to-female gender reassignment surgery. Damn! Those man-made vaginas look good! Better than mine!

I wonder how many lives Wikipedia and the google search button have ruined…

My period started a couple of hours ago, so I can probably just put today’s extra mood of depression down to PMS. Over the last year, I’ve definitely noticed that my mood is much darker the day my period starts. This is a strange occurrence for me, as I’ve nearly always had trouble-free periods. Barely a cramp, or even the tiniest of mood swings.

Financially, things are also a mess for me, and I don’t quite know how to get myself out of the black hole of debt and bills I find myself in. Things are not at a critical stage, but I am living a pretty hand-to-mouth existence, and it’s very, very tiring. I badly need new clothes, so much so that I can’t even bear to go out anymore because I know I don’t look as well put together as I could. I suppose stuff like that doesn’t really matter…but it does. Hell, even Otis Redding knew that: “Oh, she may be weary/Young girls they do get weary/Wearing that same old shaggy dress”

As for “trying a little tenderness”, Midwestern Man hasn’t been very good at that lately. I don’t really blame him, though. I just don’t have much to give right now, and I know he feels neglected. Like most men, he’s not very good at expressing his frustration and feelings of neglect, so they just come out in anger instead. He’s also a very angry, argumentative drunk (kind of worrying actually…his biological father was/probably still is an alcoholic) who causes small disagreements to escalate into horrific fights. I just wanted to hang out on Saturday night and watch “Deadwood” on TV, but instead we got into an argument, which involved him calling me “a whore”; me finally losing it and throwing a glass of wine in his face; him throwing a glass of wine in my face and, then, finally, as the dénouement, me lobbing the empty wine bottle at him as he fled into the bathroom. Luckily it missed, but I now have a huge hole in my bedroom door. OK, so I never said I was a great drunk…but, in my defence, I did try to avoid arguing until he called me a whore…

That night, and for most of the next morning, I was dead set on getting a divorce, but then I called him, and asked him to come round for cuddles…and all was good again.

Unfortunately, I misunderestimated the emotional effect our huge fight had had on me. When I went to my first ever book group yesterday afternoon, I sat down with my cup of coffee in the circle of readers and my hands couldn’t stop shaking, probably from sheer emotional exhaustion. My hands were shaking so much that I spilled the coffee all over the place, which made me flustered, which made my hands shake more, which made me spill more coffee, which made me flustered and made my hands shake more etc etc…I was also sweating like a pig because I’d cycled there, in the heat. I also felt weak and completley on edge, and I must have looked as pale as a ghost. I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown, and I was stuttering.

All of this would have been OK if it hadn’t been an African-American Literature bookgroup, with only one white member (me!). I knew I was probably going to be the only white person there, and that didn’t bother me, but the other members must have thought I was having some kind of whitey meltdown. It’s ironic because I was actually pleased that there probably wouldn’t be any white Americans because the ones in this town are often entitled, spoiled fucks, and I can’t relate to them. A case in point: why am I the only white person in the group?! It clearly says on the public website that the group is open to everybody. Surely I can’t be the only white person in the town interested in African-American literature?

In the end, everything was fine…everybody was really welcoming to me, and the leader of the group said she really enjoyed my input. I might also ask the woman from Montréal to accompany me next month, as her parents are from Trinidad, and there was a Trinidadian at the group. I’m sure they’d like to meet each other, and this way I have a safe, non-desperado, non-stalkery activity to suggest doing together.