Unprotected

by Amy Issadore Bloom

As Sunday evening approaches, here is a little something to help ease the pain of the weekend ending and the work-week beginning.

This short story by Simon Rich is truly one of most creative and humorous pieces I’ve ever read. (It’s only two short pages, and well worth your time.)

Read it here: Unprotected

 

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The Dovekeepers

by Amy Issadore Bloom


 I added this nifty Book Club tab to my navigation panel, anticipating writing book reviews (with some frequency). What I realize now is that it’s actually not that easy to write a review.

Do you include a synopsis? How much is too much? Is there a system for rating, or just my random opinions.

None the less, I really miss sharing books with my friends and family. I especially miss having somewhat meaningful and insightful discussions about them, even if casually. So, here we go:

I just finished reading The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman.

It is set in Ancient Israel, and tells the tale of the Jewish resistance during the Roman siege of Masada. It is told through the eyes of four women; heroines with their own sad, inspiring, and mystical stories.

The Dovekeepers reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Red Tent, by Anita Diamont. I suppose it’s the ancient desert setting, and the focus on the lives of the women.

My complaint would be the length of the novel. I found myself wondering when it would end, even though I was enjoying it. It also takes a long time to learn how the lives of these women are really connected.

My rating –

 

Did you read The Dovekeepers? What did you think? Have another book you would like me to review? Let me know!

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Silent

by Amy Issadore Bloom

In the November issue of the Virginia Journal of Education – my story about Joonbum, the student who never spoke.

Read it here.

 

 

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Good Citizenship

by Amy Issadore Bloom

 

Happy Election Day! As a mother, teacher, and resident of the nation’s capital I would like to share a few lessons on good citizenship.

1) GO VOTE.

2) While in an hour-long line waiting to vote, consider letting a mother with her fussy toddler cut in front of you. Nobody likes waiting in line, even for something as wonderful as the opportunity to vote. But trust me, babies and small children really don’t like it – especially when there are no cookies, games, or rides at the end of the wait.

3) When you are at Starbucks, open the door for anyone pushing a baby stroller and holding a hot cup of coffee. Don’t ask. Just put your phone away and help out.

 

(I realize much of this is preaching to the choir, so feel free to pass these lessons along to those who need some guidance.)

 

 

 

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Looking Back

by Amy Issadore Bloom

 

It occurred to me that NaNoWriMo would have been a pretty cool project back during various phases of unemployment in my twenties. I’m not saying I could have produced much of quality (especially since I’m not a fiction writer), but it would have given me a purpose, some structure, and a creative outlet.

It’s easy to look back, before all of these adult responsibilities – before spouses and children, careers and mortgages – and think how much differently you could have approached things, how much more carefree (or responsible) you could have been.

But, it seems that the more we grow up with family and friends “encouraging” us to take certain paths, the more we want to explore other ones. Sometimes we learn they were right. Teaching is a more stable career than event planning. Sometimes, going off the beaten path proves to be absolutely wonderful- like moving to Spain.

It’s all a part of that real world learning that is such a shock after college. That learning continues throughout our lives, of course.

Maybe when I’m close to 50, I’ll look back at my thirties and think how differently I might have done things. Hopefully not too much though.

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National Blog Posting Month

by Amy Issadore Bloom

 

November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.  It’s just like it sounds – write a novel in a month. Apparently, Sara Gruen’s novel, Water for Elephants began as a NaNoWriMo project. Crazy impressive, huh?

November is also NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month. It is challenging, but writing a blog post daily for a month is a much more realistic goal than writing a novel in a month.

The thing is, you’re  supposed to actually write something every day. Using a back-log of stored posts, and simply hitting publish would be like cheating. Wouldn’t it?

That said, I will not be blogging original ideas each day. I will also share Must Read articles, editorials, and other nifty stuff. I realize that if I were on Facebook, that would also be an appropriate place to post stuff like that. But, I’m not. Yet.

So, here we go – Day 1! (Yes, I am aware it’s not really the first day of November. The kind chicks over at BlogHer give you till the 5th to sign up.)

(For my awesome subscribers: I hope the daily posts entertain and inspire, rather than annoy you!)

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Narratives from the Classroom

by Amy Issadore Bloom

My latest piece for the Virginia Journal of Education is out. It’s a small dent in a larger conversation.

You can read it here: Demographics Change; So Must We

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Bloom in St.Michael’s

by Amy Issadore Bloom

We’ll, it’s certainly not Santa Monica, but a few days on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is still a nice little get away.  Some vacations seem so effortless. This one was like a comedy of errors. I suppose that’s just life with a two-year-old.

After a rather unrelaxing arrival day, we were determined to make our second day feel like vacation.

In the morning, we stopped at the fantastic Rise Up Coffee stand in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center, and headed to the Inn at Perry Cabin, where apparently a scene from Wedding Crashers was filmed.

In that spirit, we pretended we were guests at the hotel, and brought our lattes and breakfast sweets onto the lawn to enjoy the beautiful view.

As we were getting situated, Justin grabbed the bag with the pastries, and his beloved blueberry scone fell on the ground. Five second rule? (I hope you said yes, because we ate it.)

As we sat on the huge white wooden chairs, looking at the water, the sailboats, the trees – it  finally felt like we were on vacation. A picture perfect moment. And, a moment it was because the landscaping crew came vrrmming by on their big noisy mowers, forcing us to relocate.

Later that afternoon, we went to a supermarket called Graul’s – a name that just doesn’t roll of the tongue. (Apologies if this is your family name. You can get back at me by calling me Issadork, or Issahoe.)

So, my husband is in the checkout line trying to pay, while holding Justin, who is on the brink of a breakdown.  The cashier just keeps examining his ID like she’s a bouncer at some trendy club in New York. She even had a little flashlight.

True, his license looks like its been in the wash. (I swear I didn’t do it). But, you can still see the photo, and read the DOB – which incidentally is well past (like 20 years) the required minimum drinking age.

They still won’t sell him the bottle. We’re talking chardonnay here, not Mad Dog. How much damage could we do?

We had our hearts set on sitting on the porch, and drinking a glass of wine that evening. So, I ventured out later in search of wine.

Not too be snobby, but why on earth would a tourist town close at 7pm the week before Labor Day? It was like a ghost town. Even the ice cream shops were closed already. Only the Acme was opened. (Yes they still exist.) And let me tell you, the ambiance and wine selection leave something to be desired.  It may as well have been 2am. Just a handful of sun-burned tourists, and some creepy locals.

The next evening, we discovered a lovely little restaurant. Our waitress was very patient with our son, so I must have asked if she had kids of her own. “Four,” she responded, then went on to explain about the ex, the new boyfriend, and all the rest. It seems I unintentionally invited a floodgate of sharing.

Next thing we know, she’s telling us how her ex husband bought the seven year old daughter a training bra. TMI, right?! I’m not sure what this had to do with the special of the night, or the fresh squeezed lime margarita that I so desperately needed.

I expected this conversation to the the way of – Aren’t girls maturing so quickly these days! Is it pop-culture? Hormones in the milk?

But it did not. She just kept babbling about the training bra -who needs them, who doesn’t. She herself seemed barely old enough for them. I bet she can’t buy wine at that Graul’s Market either.

Needless to say, those margaritas were actually worth the wait.

On the walk back to our rental cottage, we laughed as we recapped our vacation so far.  That’s the beauty of getting away – it’s much easier to turn the day-to-day frustrations into memories and stories to laugh about later.

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It’s popular to announce your goals. Maybe it helps you stick with it. So, here we go:

Goal: Wake up early and write.

Easier said than done. Most of my friends started going to the gym in the morning. I admire them, and realize the logic behind it. I tried it, and it’s just not for me.

But, writing, especially with a cup of coffee, I think I can handle.

The challenge is that I am just not a morning person.

One of the things I was most concerned about when I left 9-5 office life to become a teacher was the early start. Everyone said I would get used to it. I never did.

Leaving the house at 7:00 in the morning was terrible. It didn’t get better. In fact, it sucked the whole time. Of course, people also say you “forget” about the pain of childbirth. Doubtful on that one too.

Despite years of waking up early to go to work, despite having a baby- I still struggle in the morning. I’m not sure if it’s a nature or nurture thing. Is my internal alarm clock faulty, or am I a product of my childhood home?

Nobody in my family gets up early, unless there is a reason. This could be in part because my father worked late hours as a musician (weddings, not rock band) and my mom waited up for him – thus we were encouraged to sleep late, so they could too.

When we spend time with my family, my husband is amazed that he is consistently the first one up in the morning. On the other hand, I’m not sure how one can define 9:00 a.m. as “late.”

I am baffled that he can spring out of bed like a Disney character, go to the gym, pay the bills, do whatever it is morning people do – all in a good mood, sometimes without the help of any caffeine.

I thought it might rub off on me, but so far, I’m still pretty bitchy in the morning.

Perhaps the writing goal will help. Wish me luck!

Any suggestions on finding time to write? How about on becoming happier in the morning?

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The Lost Boys

by Amy Issadore Bloom

It’s a near perfect Sunday morning. I’m enjoying a cappuccino with a lovely little heart in the foam, a muffin, and the NY Times. What more could I ask for? All is right with the world, until of course, I open the newspaper.

There they are, the The Lost Boys of Sudan, back in the news. Honestly, I hadn’t given them much thought lately.

A few years ago, their story kept me up at night while I read Dave Eggers novel, What is the What.

These boys, as young as five, walked thousands of miles to refugee camps in Ethopia. They walked in the heat, the darkness of night, eating only grass, dodging bullets and tigers. Of an estimated 30,000 boys, only 10,000 survived the journey. Most were never reunited with their families.

The original Lost Boys fled Sudan during the civil war of the 1990’s. The war really never ended, despite a “peace agreement.” Now there is a new wave of Lost Boys.

Eggers novel is based on the real life journey of Valentino Achak Deng, who made it from Sudan to Ethopia, and finally the United States.

It is a stirring and intimate account of the children who grew up during the civil war, the atrocities they experienced in Sudan, and the unexpected difficulties of life in America.

I highly recommend it.

If you don’t want to take my word, here is another review.

Let me know what you think.

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