Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My January 2012 in Review: Movies

As this month comes to a close I realize that I saw three movies (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, and The Artist) in the theater this month and did not share a single review. Enough is enough, let's spin these reels!

Image source
 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I don't know what it is. I have a thing for arch-nemeses. Am I alone here? On New Year's Day my husband proposed that we take our lazy day and spend it at our local movie theater. As I read out all of the movies showing, I have to admit there were a number that I wanted to see, but when I heard my husband mumble something about "Moriarty" my decision was made!

I loved the first Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, but Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was even more enjoyable. Starting off with a disguised Sherlock, in pursuit, flirting and then finding himself in a impossible fight against a bunch of henchmen before stumbling upon a great mystery when he is unable to successfully save one man's life in his usual fashion - this film wastes no time drawing the audience in hook, line and sinker! Once Watson catches up with us, we are then treated to some comedic levity along with mutual respect as this partnership faces some of its greatest challenges in this tale which lead to both men having to truly assess their need for one another.

If it is not already evident, I loved this movie. It not only delivered an amazingly exciting action/mystery storyline in Sherlock's quest for Moriarty's true motives, but it also was a rich tale of character. I believe we got to know Sherlock and Watson on a much deeper level than in the previous film. If you have not already seen this film, and you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I highly recommend you check this out.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
Image Source

My brother is typically a really harsh film critic, so I was really surprised when he called me and said I had to see Mission Impossible. While he enjoys military/law enforcement/action movies and television shows, as a police officer and former Marine, he tends to get really annoyed when things are a bit far-fetched. After seeing a number of trailers I had planned to see MI4 (you can't keep me away from a Simon Pegg movie!), but I was expecting jeers from the little bro. It wasn't until we were finishing up our phone call about the movie that I felt the natural order had been restored. I told him I was definitely going to go see it, especially now that he even endorsed it, so he responded, "But Nicole, I just have to tell you... it's not all realistic. There's some stuff that's ridiculous." I just laughed and explained to him that these things didn't bother me - film is about being fantastic, after all, isn't it?

Well, as you've probably guessed, Mission Impossible 4 Ghost Protocol was the second movie I saw in theaters this January. If you like action movies, then this is for you. It is non-stop thrills, pretty faces and spy fun. Of course, it is over-the-top (Tom Cruise is climbing on the outside of a skyscraper with some hi-tech sticky gloves as a sand storm approaches?!), but, in this day and age it seems like that is exactly what audiences need in order to say, "Wow!"

I enjoyed it, the movie did not end the way I expected and I was wondering why it took the Mission Impossible legacy so long to win me over again. This was the first movie since the first that I walked out of the theater truly excited about (in fact, I left the third to see on cable). I recommend this movie for those looking for the true Hollywood escape experience - leave your troubles at the door and left the team take you for a ride! (My brother swears it must be seen in IMAX).



The Artist

In all honesty this film deserves its own post. (That is a warning about the length of this section!)

A number of weeks ago I was on twitter when I noticed Jimmy Fallon tweeted about the movie "The Artist" and how it essentially was one of the best things he had ever seen. I wish I saved the tweet because whatever he wrote lead me to search out the film, watch its trailer and start looking for showtimes.

Fast forward past the Golden Globes where The Artist received quite a bit of attention and *POW!* The Artist was finally at my local theater this weekend!

It was beautiful. It was magnificent. It was poetic and artful. Sweep the Academy, I say! They deserve it all.

If you know nothing of this movie, let me give you my own synopsis. This is a silent, black and white film. In that statement alone, the movie is a maverick in these times where films battle for big pictures in 3D or IMAX and huge sounds in deafening remastered digital surround sound.

In its silence, the movie allows the filmmakers to draw our attention to what is necessary, what is relevant, and strips away the distractions.

In its silence, the movie allows the actors to emote in such beautiful movements of their bodies, their faces and their eyes.

In this movie's silence you are left wondering why everything else has to be so loud in order to say so little.

The story of The Artist is about a successful silent actor during a time of great transition. His industry is changing in order to allow for "talkies" and his world is crumbling under the financial collapse of the stock market crash.

In the very first scene of the film we are told what the major conflict of the film will be when our protagonist, while acting in one of his silent films as some sort of spy being tortured for information, yells as he is strapped down. The words come on the screen for us to read, "I will never talk no matter what you do to me!" (I don't know if this is the exact quote - I would have written it down if I wasn't so in awe of the beautiful clarity set forth before me).

"Speak!" The torturers say as they electrocute him, "SPEAK!"

He says nothing. This is a message to the torturers and to us in the audience. I won't tell you the whole message. I won't continue describing the film for fear of spoiling it all. I will just say this: if you have a long standing love affair with film as I do, then you absolutely must not hesitate to see this movie. In fact, let me rephrase that, you must SEE this movie - keep your eyes open - the director is brilliant, every setting has a message, every scene tells a tale, nothing is careless here. I can't help but think that the title of this film is so appropriate, not just for the protagonists tale, but for every person involved. The Artist is truly a piece of art.

Here is the trailer, so you can take a look for yourself, if you have not seen it yet.



I loved it. (obviously)

Have you seen any of these movies from my January trips to the theater?
What are your picks for the Academy Awards this year?
What genre of movie do you most enjoy?
Are you drawn to arch-nemeses tales? 

*Special thanks to CostCo for selling those movie tickets really cheap so I 
can still afford to go to the movies! Don't know what I'd do without them...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Love Heads Back to Middle Earth

LIKE The Carpe Diem's FB Page!
When One Book Just Isn't Enough
 
In last week's book love post we were introduced to Eric Storch, who first read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien in the second grade and with it found his first ever book love. Chris, from The Carpe Diem blog had a similar experience, he says, "Like Eric, I was introduced to The Hobbit at a relatively young age, I think it was the fourth grade," (after both of these stories, I'm thinking my parents somehow failed me - I didn't read The Hobbit until I was in my twenties!), however, Chris was not completely enamored with this one book, "While I definitely enjoyed it, I can't say it was my first book love. It was a good story, but it left me wanting more." Well, young Chris was a smart cookie who set off to the school library on his quest for more, "In the fifth grade I turned to the Lord of the Rings and was immediately entranced."

What Is It About Middle Earth? 
 
If you have not yet taken the literary journey to Middle Earth like Chris has, Eric has or I have, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Perhaps you are thinking, "I saw the movies. They were cool, there was action, drama and the book fans love it - there's no need for me to read the book. I have experienced this." I will ask you to reconsider. I will ask you to just think about some of these thoughts Chris shared about Middle Earth, The Lord of the Rings and the reading experience as a whole:

When I asked Chris what first drew him into his first book love, in general, as a book, he said
It was definitely the sense of being transported to a whole new world, and a complete world at that. No matter how deeply you wanted to delve into the lore and history that Tolkien  created, it was all so consistent and complete. I absolutely loved it, I was so into it. I think at that age I knew the history of Middle Earth better than the history of the real world.
When I asked Chris about his first impressions of Middle Earth, he said
I loved the completeness of it all. I loved the geography. I used to imagine what the landscapes in the maps [from Middle Earth atlases] would look like - the wilderness of Eriador, the soaring peaks of the Misty Mountains, the barren, poisonous environment of Mordor, the majestic and mighty River Anduin.
When I asked Chris if it was difficult to fall in book love again after reading The Lord of the Rings, he said
Definitely. I still read widely, but nothing was able to capture the scope and grandeur of Tolkien.
And when I asked Chris if he recommended The Lord of the Rings to others to read, he honestly replied
Again, definitely, but I think you really have to be interested in books with depth. It's not a casual read!

So there you have it. The secret to the joy of Tolkien's tale - it is not a casual read, but it is complete, grandiose and captivating. If you think you're up to it, pick up the book, you may not be able to put it down, for awhile (Chris begrudgingly confessed to reading LotR 32 times!).

Does Tolkien Approve of Peter Jackson?


For those who read the book and experienced Middle Earth as Tolkien intended it before Peter Jackson transformed New Zealand into Middle Earth and put that tale on the screen, the idea of capturing this  epic fantasy on film seemed a ridiculous pipe dream. Yet Chris, like many fans, gives Peter Jackson due credit for taking on the behemoth,"The standard was impossibly high. Getting it wrong would have destroyed a filmmaker's career. Yet Jackson managed it superbly. For the most part he was entirely faithful to the story. New Zealand was a perfect setting - the geography worked as Middle Earth... The casting was also really well done." But Chris has one sticking point, "The only part that irked me, somewhat, was Faramir's attempt to take Frodo and Sam back to Gondor... that wasn't in the book. But overall... Peter Jackson deserves every accolade he received."

In line with this reflection on the film, Chris raises an interesting question when I asked him what one thing he would ask Tolkien if he could, "I'd have to say - what does he think of Peter Jackson's representation of Middle Earth? ...I'd be fascinated to know if Peter Jackson's interpretation of Middle Earth was consistent with how Tolkien saw his world in his own mind." I was surprised I hadn't thought of this myself. This is usually the number one question I want to ask authors once their story has hit the screen.

Tolkien's (and Chris's) Greatest Lesson


While we may be unable to get Tolkien's answer to Chris's great question, that does not mean he is done sharing with us. Chris points out a fantastic life lesson to be garnered from Lord of the Rings that has little to do with fantasy, other worlds or fiction. It is, in fact, about how we should approach our life, "I think it really showed me that if you are passionate about something, there is no limit to what you can create. Tolkien clearly loved what he did, I think his life work is a great example to people that you can only be limited by your own imagination. Tolkien created whole languages just for the pure joy of it. If that's not loving life I don't know what is. So I'd say the primary lesson is: follow your passions and don't accept boundaries on what you can do and achieve."

(Just wondering... did I mention that the name of Chris's blog is The Carpe Diem?) 

Finding Love After Middle Earth

Although Chris said it was difficult to find book love after reading Lord of the Rings, it wasn't impossible. He found other authors that captured his interests such as
  • Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince series and Exile series
  • The space opera of Alastair Reynolds
  • Stephen King for his mastery of characterizations 

How To Connect With Chris (aka Buzz)

Here are some great ways to connect with Chris to see what he's up to right now:
  • My blog is called the Carpe Diem ... site is www.thecarpediem.net  Having been through a marriage separation recently I'm in the process of some significant personal development and growth.  The blog is my chronicle of my journey and also a resource for people wanting to seize the day and learning to live in the present.  The site motto is "Because Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal".  I'm having a lot of fun with it but don't have many subscribers yet! 
  • Twitter: @the_carpediem
  •  FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Carpe-Diem/124943070952161 
  • Reddit:  I edit a subreddit - unsurprisingly called Carpediem !

Sunday, January 29, 2012

First Quickie Check-In for ROW80

On Thursday I announced my participation in the ROW80, the writing challenge that understands you have a life. In that post, as part one of the the challenge, I set goals for myself. The second part of the challenge is the accountability: The Check-Ins.

As part of ROW80, you must check in each Sunday and Wednesday to ensure you are keeping up with your goals.

Welcome to my first check-in!

For the sake of brevity (and saving your sanity) I will only list those goals which I moved forward in this week so far, as for the rest, I will do a thorough recap on Wednesday.

Writing 

 I had two writing-specific goals and I am pleased to say that I have made headway in both! First of all, I committed myself to  writing for at least three hours per day Monday through Friday. I have don this consistently since Wednesday, and, I am overjoyed to say that on Friday afternoon, one story seemed to beg to go on. I think I may be on the verge of starting my next novel (I still can't believe that!) thanks to this commitment.

The second writing-specific goal also sprung to life this week. I am an active part of an online writing group via Twitter. There are six of us that keep checking in with each other, meeting via #wordmongering word sprints and checking in with our ROW80! There's Morgan, Tui, Julie, Chasing Joy, Susan, and ME! It's been really great to have this virtual support and it is nice to share the joy of the writing experience with others (check out Tui's first check in to ROW80 - it surprised the heck out me today!)

Reading

As part of my reading goals, I was hoping to make a dent in my goodreads 2012 reading challenge. I set it up that I would read 52 books in 2012! Well, this week, I finished my first two books of 2012, so I'm finally on my way!

Spreading Out/Getting Published

Finally, I said that I would like to start contributing to the Yahoo Contributor's Network. I have been enrolled since August 2011, but have not made the leap to contribute any work yet. Since I set it as a goal on Thursday, I got right to working on that and submitted two pieces. So far, one has been published and the other is still being reviewed. You can check out my Yahoo Contributor profile to see my stuff (who knows maybe there will be more stuff by the time you get there).

The Rest of the ROWers

Here are the links of all of the others who have bravely checked in this week Looks like I'll be link #77). Check them out, cheer them and on, and, if you are so inclined, join the crew! I hope I've made you proud in the couple of days I've at this challenge!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Star Wars Uncut: Director's Cut

Me at the NY ComicCon 2011
Do you believe in the Force?

Do you dream of having a drink at the Cantina?

Have you tried to fashion your long hair into two danishes on the side of your head?

Are you ever on a quest for a protocol droid that is fluent in over six million forms of communication?


If you have answered "Yes" to any of these questions, or if you feel like you know exactly what happened A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, then this following video is for you.


It is called Star Wars Uncut: Director's Cut and it is, in fact, the film you know and love, Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, but it is definitely not the way you remember it. This edition is not another remastering by Mr. Lucas, it does not include added scenes, enhanced explosions or sounds - this is a remake, inspired by Casey Pugh. "Contributors were allowed to recreate scenes from Star Wars however they wanted."

There was an overwhelming response. The movie was assembled, and, rather than me tell you about it, I think you need to just see it for yourself. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

And Then I Found ROW80

After a little more than a week of pumping myself up and day-dreaming about what goals I would like to set for myself (see how this story started) I happily stumbled upon ROW80 during Wednesday night's informal #commenthour twitter chat (follow #commenthour on Twitter for details, if you're a blogger, you need to join this party!). Since I am a sucker for hashtags and Twitter chats of all sorts, I asked what #ROW80 was all about. Tui Snider of Mental Mosaic sent me the link and said it seemed cool to her and she was planning to join in.

So I checked it out, and Tui was right. It is cool and I'm joining in. Right now, in fact, with this post.

OK, OK, for the uninitiated you are completely baffled and that isn't fair. Here's the description of ROW80, (which stands for A Round of Words in 80 Days, by the way) as they describe it:
What Is ROW80?

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

We are all different and we all have different demands on our time.  Why should we all have the same goal?  The simple answer is that we shouldn’t.  If you want to be a writer, then you have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to your changing circumstances.  If that means changing your goals when your life blows up, so be it.  ROW80 is the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life. [from A Round of Words in 80 Days website]

I do want to be a better writer. My real life does tend to get n the way more than I'd like to admit, but all the same there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to work around that!

Let me cut to the chase and get to my goals already:

Writing:
  • Write three hours per day Mon-Fri.
  • Become an active member of a writing group.
Reading: 
  • Read at least one hour per day
  • Complete goodreads 2012 challenge of 52 books this year 
Spreading Out/Getting Published:
  • Start claiming and completing assignments from the Yahoo Contributor's Network of which I am a part. (Although I have yet to submit a single piece of work!!)
  • Enter at least one writing contest per month.
  • Send at least one piece to a literary magazine per month.
Alright. That's it. It feels a bit terrifying to have that all written down there. Which is a pretty good sign they're the right ones. I have that fear of failure because these are the things I really want.

I'll be checking in here on Rivera Runs Through It, to link to Round of Words in 80 Days as part of my accountability, so you'll get to see how I'm doing. I hope to make you proud!!

What do you think? Are these goals do-able?
Have I set my sights too high?
...perhaps too low?
What goals have you set for yourself?

Setting Goals

My best friend and I have been talking a lot about goals and goal setting the last couple of weeks. She's been reading a book (I should ask the name) that has goal writing assignments in it. She's called me a couple of times about it saying she's struggling with the goal writing because the examples given seem largely unrealistic and Dawn, my friend, is nothing if not practical. She wanted to write out goals for herself that were definitely attainable so that she would not set herself up for failure.

It makes perfect sense, but what if you can always find the "what if" that could lead you to failure? Dawn felt stymied.

Get Out of the Way of Your Goals
 
I love goal setting. I have done it so often for myself, with teachers I've worked with and, of course, with my students, I understand how easy it is for us to get in the way of our own goals. In an attempt to seek perfection, we inevitably shut ourselves off from opportunities to grasp that which will truly make us happy. We must reach for the stars when we are setting our goals (particularly when we write them down) because if we don't express exactly what we really want out of life, then no one is going to figure it out for us.

As Dawn and I had a conversation about this particular point, I began to think about my current goals. In horror, it occurred to me that I had none. Not only were none written down, but, after one and a half years out of teaching, knowing I am not returning, I had no idea what I was reaching for next.

So it suddenly clicked. Nicole: it is decision time.

Luck Had NOTHING To Do With It
 
I often reflect upon my life thinking about how lucky I was to become a teacher right out of college, to teach the kids I wanted to teach, to get the courses I wanted to get, to be invited to the professional development opportunities I always dreamed of being a part of and garnering the respect in my field that a professional would warrant. However, I now realize that luck had little to do with it. These things were my goals. These were the things I wanted more than anything else and because I made that clear to myself first, then I fashioned my life (some case consciously, other cases subconsciously) in a way to make them more feasible.

Back to the Drawing Board
 
I am now in a place where the world is my oyster once again. Grant it, I have a rare brain disease, a digestive disorder and two broken eyes, but I do not concern myself with the limitations of my reality when creating my dream life. I, instead, like I was trained to do in all of my Mathematics courses, first assume that all variables are in their most stable state before venturing forth to write up the proof of my new life - because, who knows? Maybe those sticky matters won't factor into my dream plan. And I don't think thy will. Coming up on my three year anniversary of my diagnosis with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension means, for me, that IIH is no longer the ugly pimple everyone is staring at on my chin, it is now just a part of my face.

So I'm ready. And they say everything happens for a reason, right? I'm a strong believer in that one. Well, it was obviously important for Dawn and I to have those conversations about goal setting so I would realize how I had let mine go, but what I had not expected was that there would be a second stage to this path for me. Last night, while feverishly juggling two twitter chats I had been looking forward to all week (#commenthour and #writeonedge) I stumbled upon a group of writers that virtually get together to set goals and be accountable. Kismet? Oh yes, I think so!

And Then I Found ROW80 (click to continue...)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Prophet by Kahil Gibran


The following post is taken directly from my hand-printed Reader's Journal. I will be sharing these reflections each week on the Rivera Runs Through It blog. The date at the end of each post is the date of the original writing, which is typically the date I completed the book. The reflections are short, but represent my initial reactions to a book, a brief summary of the book or the questions it raised for me at the time. I hope you enjoy this segment in my blog and feel free to comment on what you read here.





The Prophet by Kahil Gibran

Another book on Joe's reading list. I had read most of this book before, but decided to read it over again. I like it a lot, however, it takes a bit of time to absorb each of the chapters since they are written in a type of poetic prose. The prophet speaks on most life's issues before leaving the city of Orphalese for the life at sea. I'm curious now about Gibran and his origin. I plan to peruse some of his other writing.

Dated: 09/01/02

Have you read any of Gibran's works?
Are you a fan of writing that walks the line between poetry and prose?



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What if you met an alien? [Writing Prompt]

What if #22:

What if you met an alien?

This picture really freaks me out. (source)
Ever since my parents took me to see E.T. in the theater, I have had an extreme fear of alien life. My family has always been amused by this fact and has continually entertained themselves by exposing me to as many stories and movies as they could get their hands on as well as randomly buying E.T. stuffed animals and leaving them in all of the scariest of places for me to find.

I've tried to be proactive about my fear and search out knowledge about the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. In many ways I love the idea of it as a super-fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, and, of course, Doctor Who, but the reality of it strikes me differently.This is on my mind because yesterday it hit the news again.


Each time I see a story like this flying around the Internet, or even being broadcast on my evening news, I tend to cringe. Are they coming? What do they want? Will they abduct me, experiment on me, take me away from my family? The fears mount (and get increasingly ridiculous).

So I'm wondering how you would handle the situation of meeting an alien. You, my sane, normal, perfectly balanced reader. What would you do if you met an alien? Write your response and link it below:





Each week the Rivera Runs Through It blog presents a different "What If...?" question for you to explore.
Link up your own post about this week's question. If you have arrived at this post and the inlinkz tool is closed, or you don't have a blog, then please leave your response (or link) in the comment section below using DISQUS.

For a list of all of the What if questions asked so far, 


Monday, January 23, 2012

A Book Love Begins With Bilbo

I knew when I wrote my post on first book loves that the name J.R.R. Tolkien would come up. Eric Storch sent me an e-mail on the day I published that post which began with the following sentence: "I just read your post and without hesitation I can say my first book love was “The Hobbit” ..." I was so excited. I could tell from the content of that e-mail alone that Eric was the epitome of who I had imagined. I contacted him with my interview questions and, personally, have found his story of book love fascinating! So, without further adieu, here is Eric's story of his first book love, in his own words...
Here's Eric with his ORIGINAL copy of The Hobbit from 1978!
It Began With A Gift

My first book love was “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. When I was in second grade in 1978, my father gave me a paperback copy for my birthday. I had never been a big reader and I remember thinking that I was a bit intimidated by being asked to read a novel. Luckily, my birthday always fell on the winter break in late February, so I had a week of being stuck indoors with not much more to do than read the book.

I read the entire thing that week. I had never experienced anything like it. A world of dwarves, elves, wizards, dragons and … hobbits! The book took me to a strange and unknown place – a place I was sorry to say goodbye to when I turned to the last page.

A Reader Was Born 
 
I was hungry for more. My dad also had paperbacks of the “Lord of the Rings” dating from the mid-sixties. Those he let me borrow, and I ate up that story with as much relish as “The Hobbit.”

As the years went by, I delved into whatever fantasy fiction I could find: “The Prydain Chronicles” by Lloyd Alexander, The Elric of Melnibone books by Michael Moorcock, the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories by Frtiz Leiber, The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin and so many others. All classic sword and sorcery books.

When I couldn't find sword and sorcery, I discovered mysteries and started reading Agatha Christie, Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Then on to science fiction, mythology, classic literature; I was a book junkie and I always needed a fix.

I always came back to Tolkien though. Since that week in 1978, I have read “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” once every year. So that's … thirty-three times. Yikes! I had never counted it before. I still have those old copies of Tolkien's books. In fact, I still have almost every book I ever bought. The house is full of books! I just can't get rid of my friends.

When the Stories Hit the Silver Screen
 
Over the years, I had always thought that the Tolkien books would make great movies. My father took me to the movies ages ago to watch Ralph Bakshi's animated version of the Lord of the Rings and we were both disappointed when the movie ended half way through the story. I don't even want to discuss the Rankin/Bass debacle of The Hobbit and Return of the King.

When I discovered that a live action version of Lord of the Rings was in the works, all I can say is, “Thanks the powers that be for the internet!” I was able to follow as much of the movie making process as was allowed and grew very excited for the final product. I was not disappointed. I know many Tolkien fans were upset by the changes to the story and out-right omissions, but LotR would just not have been very good as a direct translation from book to film. Changes had to be made and I think Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh did an excellent job with the script to say nothing of how visually stunning all three films are.

Needless to say, with Jackson helming The Hobbit, I'm not worried in the least. I know both films will be great (they are using information from the appendixes of LotR as well as other works that Tolkien wrote to fill in the gaps between the events of The Hobbit and LotR). I can't wait for them!

The Long Term Effects of Being a Tolkien Fan
 
Fantasy fiction has become my life blood. My wife has jokingly said that I need to read fantasy as much as I need to breathe. It's true. It has become a major part of what and who I am. Reading fantasy led to playing role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons which in turn led to life-long friendships. I have a small group of friends I have known since the mid-eighties who I am still in touch with because of this.

Reading has also led to a desire to write. I write often, though sometimes not very well. I haven't ever been published, but it isn't a serious goal. I write stories that I would like to read, but haven't found written by anyone else. Most often, I'm the only one who enjoys them.

Reading in general and a shared love of fantasy fiction was one of the things my wife and I connected on when we first met. We have been exploring new books together such as The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson and the Shadow March series by Tad Williams. It's been quite a journey.

The Greatest Interview of All
 
If I could ask Tolkien one thing, I think it would be, “What was it like being the first person to discover Middle-Earth? Were you as amazed as the rest of us?” That might be a kind of lame question, but I like to think that he loved visiting Middle-Earth most of all. I know I did. His books gave me a place to go for a short time that took me away from the troubles happen to and around me. His books helped me discover a love of reading and writing. His books helped my find life-long friends and the most wonderful woman a man could ever ask for.

Thank you, Professor Tolkien.

How To Contact Eric

If you are looking to connect with Eric, or read some of his writing, then you need to check these links out:

Have you read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien? 
If so, what was your first impression?
If not, what's stopping you?? 
(The movie comes out later this year - you should ALWAYS try to read a book before you see the movie!)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Messes

What people somehow (inadvertently, I'm sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here -- and, by extension what we're supposed to be writing.
~Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life page 
I love that I just read this at the end of my epic cleaning day.

I am a messy person. It is who I am. I know that it is a part of everything that I create and everything that works for me.

There are days I wish I wasn't a messy person, but those are the days, like today, where I do epic, brute-force cleaning of everything in sight. Those days are filled with deep thought and, just like Anne Lamott wrote, finding myself.

Ideas abound on these days.

Problems are solved on these days.

Plans are made on these days.

The only problem with these days is that there is little time to jot any of this brilliance down.

So... here's to hoping that something sticks tonight.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Unexpected Guest

This post was written in response to this week's Red Writing Hood prompt on the Write on Edge. It is as follows:
“The cure for anything is salt water….sweat, tears or the sea.”
~ Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke
For your Creative Non-Fiction tell us about the last time that one of these three things “cured” you. If you are going with Fiction, have your character resolve a problem using one of the three (or all three!!!). 

I went for fiction. I hope you enjoy it.
 
"Mommy, I did bad."

I braced myself for the confession of some silent, disastrous mess made while I ignorantly stole some reading time for myself. As her eyes met mine I saw a sadness there that sent an ice pick through my heart,"Come sit, Honey, what is it?"

"...memember the beach today?" she's so serious.

I nod.

"A-and memember you said I was so lucky acause I saw the star?"

"Of course! That starfish was beautiful," I didn't know how this made her unhappy. I tried to change the mood, "Remember its colors? What colors did you see?" she's a fan of color recall, this should've scored a smile.

Wrong. It brought tears, "I think it's ick. I think I hurt it."
"What do you mean it's sick? I'm sure the starfish is fine," why was she still thinking about this?

The little hand that had been in her pocket the entire time, emerged in a tiny fist. She opened it, and sniffling, asked, "Mommy, no more colors? I made them go away?"

It was her starfish. Not on the beach where I last saw it, but in her gentle hand with a piece of pink lint hanging on one of its legs. Somehow, I know this is my fault.

"Oh Baby, it needs the sea, that's all. We'll have to bring it home."

"Then I won't be lucky?"

Mea culpa.

In the kitchen I mixed water with salt in a glass, "This is Starfish's sleeping bag for the sleepover you guys are having tonight, but tomorrow, we have to bring him back home, OK?"

"We're having a sleepover?" She smiled as she looked through the glass and my heart melted as she whispered, "I am lucky."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tribulation Force by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins


The following post is taken directly from my hand-printed Reader's Journal. I will be sharing these reflections each week on the Rivera Runs Through It blog. The date at the end of each post is the date of the original writing, which is typically the date I completed the book. The reflections are short, but represent my initial reactions to a book, a brief summary of the book or the questions it raised for me at the time. I hope you enjoy this segment in my blog and feel free to comment on what you read here.




Tribulation Force by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Book two in the Left Behind series. The Main Characters of this book now have to live in a world that they know will be ending in sevn years. Each character now has a close connection with the Antichrist and is working to expand the following of Jesus in his presence. The first new romances are beginning to  develop and the close-knit group of the Tribulation Force experiences its first loss. I am hooked on this series, but I am still skeptical about its message, so I have started reading the Bible.

Dated: 08/22/02

Have you ever read the Bible? If so, what was your motivation to do so?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Title and Tagline


The following is my response to the Write On Edge RemembeRED writing prompt of the week:
We’re doing something short and sweet for this week’s RemembeRED post.
Imagine your life, or a part of your life, as a title and tagline.
That’s it. Give us the title, and give us the tagline.


 



Hindsight is 20/20 Even If I'm Not
by Nicole D. Rivera
 
One woman's look back at her beautiful, imperfect life filled with love, loss, family, teaching  and two broken eyes.

What If You Gave Up TV? [Writing Prompt]

What if #21:

What if you gave up TV?

I'm currently in the process of cutting out cable and am finding the reception in my home for your basic over the air (OTA) TV, aka "free TV," is somewhat lacking. I'm facing the reality that television, as I've known it my whole life, may just no longer be in the cards. While there is always the option of streaming and subscribing to programs like Netflix, in the end, with only one income in the house every penny has to be counted. So I'm wondering, what if I gave up TV?

Would I accomplish more?

Would I save money or want to go out more often?

Would all of my chores be done at a human like speed?

Would I become more creative (or less)?

Would I write more? read more? bake more? get back to my drawing?

Would I be left out of conversations at social events (I already felt that sting when we dropped HBO!)?

Would I keep up on the news?

The questions abound. Honestly, anytime I am in the presence of someone who says they have "given up TV" I am immediately enamored with them and wish to spend as much time talking to them as possible. I always imagine them to be so much deeper, more intelligent, more well read and well verse than I... is it a myth?

What do you think? Have you already done it? If so, what have you gained/lost from taking "the leap"? If you have not, is it something you would consider? Why or why not? Write your response and link it up below.







Each week the Rivera Runs Through It blog presents a different "What If...?" question for you to explore.
Link up your own post about this week's question. If you have arrived at this post and the inlinkz tool is closed, or you don't have a blog, then please leave your response (or link) in the comment section below using DISQUS.

For a list of all of the What if questions asked so far, 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Lost After Launching

I was in my classroom at my desk. We could have been eating lunch, in class, or just returning from recess, I don't remember. The fifth grade teacher was in the hallway crying. This woman who was part of my future, more "grown up," world was crying. She spoke to another teacher and I saw her eyes were red, too. Suddenly, as my teacher joined the hushed conversation, there seemed to be an epidemic of sorts - the adults in the small building were all distraught, whispering to each other in the protective world of the school's hallway while we, the children, the fragile, the ones who cried daily, sat speechless and wondering.

Teachers aren't supposed to cry. That's what I believed when I was nine years old.

My mind swirled not about why they were crying, but first about how. I thought about what it meant that in these short minutes that passed that we were the strong ones. I thought about what power could have swept them all away from us so uniformly - the lay teachers, the nuns, the parent volunteers - all those we were taught to run to in an emergency looked as though they needed someone to run to now. Who is left?

My teacher wiped her eyes, but her Irish decent betrayed her. She was red, her eyes puffy and her make-up was a mess. I didn't want her to tell us. I didn't want to be another casualty of this conversation. I steadied myself, told myself I wouldn't cry, told myself I'd be strong, and I told myself I didn't even have to care if I didn't want to.

"Ladies and gentlemen, there was a terrible accident. We all need to pray for the families of all of the astronauts on the Challenger..." The rest is a blur, until I reached home and saw that my father, another teacher was crying as well, along with my mother.

I didn't cry that day. I prayed. A lot. Not just for the families of the astronauts, but for the astronauts as well. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed for what was supposed to be. I prayed to understand.

On January 28, 1986, my teachers cried, a dream died and a hero of mine was lost 73 seconds into her great adventure. It was the first time I learned that not everything in this world makes sense. It was the first time I realized that even being an adult didn't mean that it would.

photo writing promptI didn't cry that day, but I've cried so many times about it since. Even today when seeing a picture of a perfectly successful launch I still can think of nothing else besides Christa McAuliffe, the woman I wanted to be.

Write on Edge had a Surprise Prompt today and I just happened to stumble over it. Here are the details: 
Take a look at the photo below and write. Don’t think too hard, just write what comes. Fiction or non-fiction. Don’t spend too long. Have fun!

A Role Model Is Found In One Mom's Book Love

When Dawn Mannix, wife and mother of two, unearthed her copy of Jane Eyre in preparation for her Book Love interview, the tale that was written within had been read so many times since she was first introduced to it approximately twenty years earlier, it was familiar, welcoming and inspiring. However, this particular copy of the book managed to hold within not only Charlotte Brontë's words, but others, etched by a mysterious person holding a key to some forgotten piece of Dawn's dating life.

Can Book Love Lead To Romantic Love?

As Dawn has been my best friend for just about two decades, I received a phone call as soon as her book was found so that the serendipitous hilarity could be shared. In the front cover of Dawn's book was an inscription from a mysterious gentleman caller hoping that they both have a great time on their first date. He went even further to wish Dawn nothing but joy, love, and success in life. A beautiful sentiment written in Dawn's favorite book of all time. It seems the perfect gift. I thought, "Whoa, what a great first impression." Problem was - neither one of us could remember who this guy was. Dawn could barely make out his signature! After nearly 48 hours of squinting, scrutinizing, trying to remember a date in 1999, Dawn ultimately figured it out when she put her husband to the task of deciphering the handwriting.
It was a guy named Brendan she went on one date with. Obviously, no sparks. According to Dawn he was a cute guy, but had a little too much baggage. The lesson learned from this: Dawn really loves Jane Eyre and, evidently, while in her twenties, she would talk about it so much that some guy thought it was the key to impressing her on a first date.

Other First Impressions

While Brendan's first impression was fleeting, the enormous impact Jane had on Dawn hit first in a sophomore English class when she was 15 years old. Since Dawn and I went to high school together, we discussed what it was like to read the book at 15. I asked Dawn if she could remember how she identified with Jane Eyre when she first read the book. "I identified with how she sees herself versus how the world sees her. For example, she sees herself as plain, while she is described as a witch."

Dawn wishes that every girl of high school age could be given a copy of Jane Eyre to read. She said, "Young girls could take a tremendous amount from this book." When I asked her what she believes some of the big lessons were that Jane could impart, without hesitation, Dawn said, "[Jane] wouldn't let anybody demean her," throughout her entire story she was "never a damsel in distress. She didn't need a man." Dawn has only one reservation about the widespread distribution of the book - the vocabulary. When we discussed the possibility of an abridged or children's version of the book, I asked Dawn if she would start reading Jane Eyre to her daughter (in the first grade) now if she could. Her response, "Hailey would love Jane!" (I did find a "Classics Retold" version of the book released by Usborne Children's Books online, but have yet to actually read it or share this news with Dawn.)

Life Lessons

As Dawn read and re-read Jane Eyre over the years, even more life lessons came soaring through its pages to her. As she reminisced about all of the dramas in Jane's life, and how dignified Jane was through it all, she kept coming back to two themes that shone above all others. Dawn says it was in reading Jane Eyre that she "first learned that love is not perfect." For those who have read the book, this might be the understatement of the century - poor Jane and Rochester! Rochester who loved Bertha enough to care for her even after her madness, despite her affinity for fire, despite her desire to run around on all fours like an animal; Jane who love Rochester despite his mad wife, with or without his riches, with or without his vision. Their love was not perfect by a long shot. They are an extreme case, but the lesson does hold true.

The second poignant point Dawn picked up from Jane was her amazing ability to come back from so much hardship, and to come back from it stronger. When I asked Dawn if she ever employed a "WWJD - What would Jane Do?" perspective on a situation in her life since it had such a great impact on her, she laughed, but then more seriously answered, "I don't think there's any circumstance you can't come back from." She said she finds that most people don't believe this, but after reading this novel she has lived by this idea - no matter how bad it gets, even when your life seems to bottom out, there's always a way back.

Some of Dawn's Other Book Loves

When I asked Dawn how Jane Eyre affected her reading choices throughout her life she said that her favorite books have always been written by women. In her opinion, "Women write women accurately." Three of her top reads (after Jane, of course) are
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Three Junes by Julia Glass
Have you had a book love lead you to romantic love?
Do you prefer exposing children to abridged or re-tellings of classic tales at a younger age, or waiting until they can "handle" the original version?
For lovers of Jane Eyre, what are the great lessons that Jane taught you?
Want to share your first book love? Check this out.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

7 Fun Finds of The Week

Well, it's been another one of those not-so-wonderful health weeks where I've been doing along of laying around, praying my brains will stay inside my head and just hoping pain-free will be my reality again soon... In the interim, I like to distract myself with flipping through websites when I can't sleep just to see what kind of cool and fun stuff is happening all around the virtual world.

Here were some of my super-cool finds from this week:

My Sing Along/Super-Geek Find of the Week:

MathPi  is a really great song that gives a little history of the number pi and just might help you impress your friends with memorizing a bunch of digits after the decimal point.
My "Now I Have to Read That Book!" Find of the Week:
Amusing Ourselves comparing Orwell's vision of the future in Nineteen Eighty Four and Huxley's vision from A Brave New World quickly put two books on my "must read" list - Huxley's and, the book this site is from "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Stuart McMillen.
My "This is Exactly What I've Been Waiting For!" Find of the Week:
SproutRobot just seems like the coolest thing ever! I type in my zip code and they tell me which seeds to plant and how to do it. What's even more is, if I would like to subscribe to their service, they will send me the seeds I need in time. I love this idea and am squirreling away some pennies right now to become their newest member! 
My Cool Random Trivia Find of the Week:
The Pizza Principle is something I never heard of before, but will likely never forget. Even though I can't enjoy this delicious local fare anymore now that I am gluten and dairy free, it behooves me as a resident New Yorker to know as much about it as possible.
My "Truth is Stranger Than Fiction" Find of the Week:
13 Simpsons Jokes That Actually Came True  is funny, sickening and, in one case thoroughly delightful, but I still can't believe it!! Out of all of my finds, this is probably the one I've been talking about most to whoever will listen. 
My Coolest Cake Find of the Week:
Leprechaun Trap Cake is quite possibly the coolest cake I have seen on the Internet in awhile (and that's saying something!). I don't want to spoil it, I just want you to check it out. It is super, super cool and I don't think I would ever be able to do something so awesome! 
and finally....

The "This Guy Is My Hero" Find of the Week:
The Guy Who Owns Only 15 Things is pretty much my hero. In this post we see him pictured with those 15 things and can read about what kind of life one can lead while armed with them!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Carrie by Stephen King


The following post is taken directly from my hand-printed Reader's Journal. I will be sharing these reflections each week on the Rivera Runs Through It blog. The date at the end of each post is the date of the original writing, which is typically the date I completed the book. The reflections are short, but represent my initial reactions to a book, a brief summary of the book or the questions it raised for me at the time. I hope you enjoy this segment in my blog and feel free to comment on what you read here.





Carrie by Stephen King
A frightening tale of a girl who would be bullied no more. As a Stephen King fan, I was not surprised that I was completely immersed from page one. I, personally, found Carrie's mother more frightening than Carrie herself. I was, at first, confused by this book on a student reading list, but perhaps it gives insight to those who create painful school times for students like Carrie.

Dated: 08/21/02

I have gained a greater understanding of reading lists since reading this book, but at the time I only had my own experience (catholic school) to compare it to.
Do you have a perception of what types of books should be on student reading lists?
Was Carrie, or any book like it, on your student reading lists?





Monday, January 9, 2012

One English Teacher's First Book Love

Robert Rivera teaches English in a high school these days. If someone had told his twelve year old self that's where he would have ended up, he probably wouldn't have believed it. You see, back in the days, Rob didn't consider himself a big reader. By his own confession, he didn't buy a novel for his own pleasure until he reached college.

What Book First Captured His Heart?

So, you might be wondering - how could a guy who didn't even really like books end up selecting a career that focused on them so intently? The answer is simple, he fell in book love at the tender age of twelve with a genre of books that is often overlooked when we consider whether or not we are readers: comic books. When I asked Rob what his first book love was, one can still hear the bias against this genre of literature, "I don't know if it counts, but I think it sort of does... I was very into comic books, first, before any books. So I would say my first book love was... Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Are There One Night Stands in Book Love?!

I asked Rob why he thought this book (or, more accurately, series of books) would not count as book love. "I think it counts in that you build a passion for something. It's something you want to share with people and not everyone knows about it. So, you feel like you have this secret that you just have to get out there. I think it satisfied those requirements for book love. I think there's another part of book love, though, when you are actually reading that book. Some comics are so short and brief that you are pretty much done with it in one sitting, but with a novel you get to interact with it for hours and days (depending on how fast your reading is)... as far as length goes [comics] are more like one night stands."

I challenged Rob to rethink he stance on the casual nature of comic book love,"Don't you feel like (if I'm going to take this analogy to it's death) you had a relationship with The Turtles because you got to see them more so than people would with a novel? You would get to see them weekly, or monthly, and that story continues." He agreed.

How Did They Meet?

Rob's father was a big time comic book fan, but, surprisingly that's not where he picked up The Turtles from. It was from a cousin who would visit from time to time. Rob admits, when he first heard the title alone, he thought it was ridiculous. However, that appeared to be the hook, "I was intrigued to look through the book at first because it was ridiculous. I thought, 'OK. This is silly,' but then I browsed through it. All of a sudden I was drawn into it." Of course I can't leave that pun hanging there as Rob was also drawn in by the art of the book, "I think it's one of the ways comic books attract young people. They can get half of the story through a visual representation, like TV. To me, I thought, 'These things look cool and I really want to know more about them.'"

We discussed how the Turtles were a major part of our childhood culture in the early nineties, but Rob takes a special pride in the fact that he was reading these books before there was a cartoon, action figures, video games or a movie. "I think I liked the idea that this was some sort of underground idea that I was in on."

The Real Life Relationships

Underground or not, all comic book readers know that once you're hooked, it is likely you will start to develop a relationship with your comic book seller, "It felt like visiting a friend each week," Rob says of the "flea-market guy." The "store" was a small five foot by six foot space with comic books on the walls behind the seller's counter and on the walls. Rob reflects fondly on a memory of strings across the top of the store where GI Joes hung who were sold for one dollar each and I worry that tomorrow we'll have the same thing running through our living room (have I mentioned that Rob is my husband?)!

Making The Transition

Rob still reads comic books faithfully, and started to branch out past the Turtles about a year after he began reading them, but you may be wondering what finally helped him make the transition from comic books to picture-less reading. He credits a high school English teacher with planting a seed that would lead to his first-ever "real" book love.

"One year I had this interesting teacher who would talk about books, in general. I remember how he mentioned The Hobbit having its own language. Something about how Tolkien had created a whole language for the characters in The Hobbit  and he planted a seed that day. All I knew of The Hobbit was 1. the cartoon that came on around Thanksgiving time, and 2. what this teacher told me.... All writers invest tons of time into their books, but I didn't know that at the time and I was intrigued by this. So The Hobbit was the first book I went out and bought for myself." However, it wasn't right after the class. It was years later, when he was in college (I have it on good authority that he read this book with a girl... I'm not going to drop any names here, but The Hobbit does have a special place in the Rivera lore.). It's a good thing he loved that book though, Rob says, "If I didn't love that book, I don't think I would be a reader today."

Some of Rob's Other Book Loves 

Rob's book love has continued over the years and when I asked him for a quick rundown of other loves, here's what he came up with:
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  •  Ender's Game Orson Scott Card
  • Othello by Shakespeare
  • Halo Series, specifically books written by Eric Nylund
  • Ringworld by Larry Niven
  • The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King  (with extra love for The Wizard and The Glass)
  • ALL SEVEN HARRY POTTER BOOKS by JK Rowling
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Susan Collins
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (he teaches this book ALL the time!)
 From Comic Books:
  • Invincible by Robert Kirkman
  • Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
  • Ultimate Spiderman by Brian Michael Bendis
  • Girls by The Luna Brothers
  • Y The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan
  • Ultimate X-Men by Mark Millar
  • Wanted by Mark Millar
  • The Watchmen By Alan Moore
  • The Dark Knight by Frank Miller
  • The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman 
  • Bone by Jeff Smith
I made him stop. 
If you are desperately seeking more of Rob's recommendations, just let me know!

Are you a comic book reader? If so, what was your first comic book love?
Have you ever felt like you were in on some sort of underground idea when reading a book?
Want to share your first book love? Check this out.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What Teachers Do

I feel like there is a misconception about what teachers actually do.

It is understandable, of course, as nearly everyone (save those who were home schooled) have seen a teacher in action, in their job, working. Why not assume, then, that after years and years of careful observation of numerous different subjects doing their job in front of the classroom you know what is entailed in the job of a teacher?

What A Teacher's Job Looks Like

Here's what we can determine from our years of observations in classroom after classroom. A teacher:
  • lectures,
  • questions,
  • presents,
  • inspires,
  • strikes fear,
  • instills a love for a subject,
  • instills a hate for a subject,
  • punishes,
  • rewards,
  • assesses, 
  • likes to give lots of notes,
  • communicates,
  • demands attention,
  • makes up tests,
  • grades tests,
  • likes to give homework,
  • likes calling parents and guardians during free time,
  • hangs things up in the classroom,
  • will tutor during "free" periods,
  • maybe drinks coffee in a teacher's lounge, 
  • probably never goes to the bathroom, and
  • might sleep in their classroom.
Most of these are right on. Perhaps you observed even more from your teachers over the years, however, what happens IN the classroom, is oftentimes the smallest inkling of the job. (I often thought, "Now comes the easy part," whenever the bell would ring to start my class!)

The piece that is missing from what most people see from teachers is THE REAL WORK. There is no lesson plan fairy. There is no "Teacher's Bible" that scripts out your every waking moment with a captive audience of youths (although I can recommend a ton of awesome teaching books!). There is no "one right way" to do teaching. You see, teaching is an art.

What Teachers Also Do

Whether your teachers inspired you or bored you to tears, they still had to do tons of work before seeing you to bring that lesson to you. Whether they surprised you every single day with a new creative technique, or you could recite their routines to this day, that presentation was not by accident, not off the cuff or on a whim.

Teachers create. That is their job. They create connections between you and the content you must master while with them. (This is easier with some lessons than others!)

Why It's Important To Know What Teachers REALLY Do

You may wonder why I am writing about this. Well, the thing is, I keep reading about, learning about and hearing about how districts keep on "dictating" how teachers should be teaching and I find this ridiculous.

I understand changes need to be made.

I understand some teachers are resistant to change.

I understand that it is the 21st century and technology needs a larger role in our classrooms.

However, rather than dictate how a teacher should implement this technology (which will only limit your results to what you have come up with), instead teach them (think you're up to it?) what the technology can do and you WILL BE AMAZED by what THEY CREATE. 

Would you give Picasso a paint-by-numbers? No. You'd give him paint and a canvas.

Would you dictate to Shakespeare how sonnets should be written? I doubt it. You'd give the man paper, ink and a quill.

Would you sit Beethoven down in front of a piano and have him play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" over and over again? I think you'd sit him down and let him play with the keys.

This is all I ask for our modern day creators. Do not limit teachers by dictating they use what is currently deemed to be cutting-edge techniques, technology and/or tools! Introduce them to the tools, techniques and tech and allow them to find the appropriate places for them in their classroom with their students.

What were some of the things you thought teachers did after your years of observation?
Know a teacher whose creativity impressed you? What did they do?
Are you a teacher? What are some parts of your job that I missed? 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Luz Sees the Light [Book Review and Giveaway]

There are BIG Happenings in this post!!


It's my first giveaway of the year!

It's also my first video post of the year!

If you are interested in a fun graphic novel with a positive message associated with it, then you simply must check out Luz Sees the Lightby Claudia Dávila. This is a fantastic book for upper elementary and middle grade kids, but this post isn't about me writing about a book. Let me just tell you about it:



So what do you think? Sounds awesome, no?

Here's the link to the guest post I wrote in December for Brenna over at the super awesome green living blog Almost All the Truth: Comic Books for Your Green Family.

There are five different ways you can enter the giveaway. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to join in the giveaway madness!

I Think I Have a Resolution Solution

When I first starting blogging regularly it was at my blog Searching for Sustenance where I blogged all about food. It was a passion, obsession and I felt I was on a mission. I needed a bit of a break, but when the new year rolled around and the news, the Internet and the world seemed to be obsessed about all of the weight-loss tricks that could be offered, the foodie in me starting clawing at me to be heard again. So, today, I posted to Searching for Sustenance and want to share the post with you if you feel so inclined.

New Year, New Body, New Technique

I know what's going on this week.

It's weight loss time!

The gyms are packed (my brother, a gym rat by nature, hates this time of year).
The diets are started.
The promises made.
Everyone is being so good.... Everyone is being so healthy...

Please try something new!
Or are they?

What's your plan? Is it the same as last year? Is it your "faithful routine" you fall back on whenever you need to shed some pounds that "works for you every time"?

I have a suggestion. In fact, it is a plea.
I want you to try something new this year.
I want you to truly look out for your health.
I want you to break this cycle, I want you to feel better and I want you to start off 2013 thinking about SOMETHING ELSE!!

This is no quick fix, but I believe it is worth the investment of your time.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne


The following post is taken directly from my hand-printed Reader's Journal. I will be sharing these reflections each week on the Rivera Runs Through It blog. The date at the end of each post is the date of the original writing, which is typically the date I completed the book. The reflections are short, but represent my initial reactions to a book, a brief summary of the book or the questions it raised for me at the time. I hope you enjoy this segment in my blog and feel free to comment on what you read here.





Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
I had no idea that Winnie-the-Pooh was such an idiot! I never was a big fan of th cartoons, but after reading this book I truly fail to see any allure this character has. Yes, he is cute in a dopey way, but I don't think a child can follow the confusing merry-go-round dialogue that takes place between the often befuddled characters. Maybe I'm being too harsh, maybe I'll give it another try some day... who knows?

Dated: 08/19/02

As I was reading this entry before typing it up here all I keep thinking was, "Whoa! Why are you being so harsh, Nicole? You NEED to give this book another try!" I was so happy to find that final line thrown in there.


Have you ever reread a book after not liking it? If so, what was the outcome? If not, what stayed your hand?