Thursday, March 13, 2014


I'll begin with telling you that teaching Crime and Punishment at the tail end of one of the harshest winters on record sucks so hard.  It's awful.  I hate reading it.  I hate pretending I don't hate it.  I want to smack Dostoyevsky upside the head with a hardcover version of it and scream, "SERIOUSLY? YOUR BOOK SUCKS!"  (Plus, I kind of hate March, it's just a long extension of shitty weather which by now everyone has grown weary of enduring.)

What makes this book so beloved/admired/included by the AP masterminds?  I understand how literary conventions can fall out of fashion and all of that, but out of all the magnificent novels written in the history of books, why do people think this one is so great?  Plus, it's a translation, so who really knows how good it was in original form?  I feel we should at least be reading something written in our native tongue.  And here's a crazy thought--something by a WOMAN writer! 

But it's not my call to make, so I am slogging through it, my eyelids heavy, my brain weary, my soul blacker than Roskolnikov's sick mind.

In other news, I'm getting my hair cut by a new person because until summer, Kristy the hair goddess cannot fit me in her schedule and I am limited to minimal hair-cutting hours.  Am so nervous about this, but it must be done.

I'm not certain, but I think Fridays are dress down days.  Should I wear nice jeans tomorrow or give it another week to be sure? 

I know about 70% of the kids' names and faces so far, and only a couple of them actively hate me to date.  Mostly they are nice and ambivalent about my presence.  The other classes I teach are reading Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers and loving it so much because it's gritty and action packed and real.  I've had to calculate their reading pace, which has been a bit tricky.  Many are devouring the book, a few wouldn't read a traffic sign if they could avoid it, so one must find a balance between 50 pages a night and zero.

Speaking of zero, guess how many times we had to eat out since Monday?  Zero!  I'm feeling ridiculously proud of that fact. 

I've been trying to find a little beauty every day and tonight it was the sunset.  The sun was a blazing red orb low in the sky, just behind the bare tree branches.  Mr. B remarked it made him feel like he was in Star Wars and I had to agree. 

Spill it, reader.  Your thoughts about Crime and Punishment beauty.  Let's share some sweetness in the comment box.


  1. Fortunately, I have never had to endure that book. It must be true that the people who decide the things which must be taught have never had to actually teach them.
    Good luck with the hair cut. I have never had my hair cut by the same person twice, unless you count my grandma, who cut my hair from my first hair cut all the way up until I jumped ship and went to a salon for a Dorothy Hammill. I came out with a mullet that took years to grow out.
    Probably not the best story to tell before you go to a new person.
    Go with the nice jeans. What are they going to do if it's not?
    Congrats on no eating out!!! That really is huge. It requires such planning and dedication to pull off. Good for you!
    Oh, how I love a good sunset.

  2. beauty - some really awesome ND sunsets the last few days. And the sun has been out, and the temp has been 40+ in fact today it was 58, now that is beautiful.

  3. I was an avid reader back in high school but I could NOT get further than a chapter or so into Crime and Punishment. Fortunately, there was an old movie version which our teacher got for us to watch in class (it was awful too, as I recall) but it got that beast out of the way. Surely there are other good books--WHY keep forcing that one on students?

    I recently had to find a new stylist when mine moved away after a decade of great haircuts--and hooray, the new one is wonderful! She costs a little more, but is still reasonable ($35).

  4. I read lots but have never read Crime & Punishment, I don't think it's on our school curriculum, I guess you're not recommending it then?
    And well done on the not having to eat out this week, we're down to chicken nuggets and oven chips tonight I think - I'm a failure!

  5. I had carrot sticks and hummus tonight with grapes for dessert. Does that count as dinner? If you were here, you might not get real food for dinner but I'd take you to my wonderful hairdresser.
    Do you get any say on the next book? Perhaps there is a movie or something to liven up C&P?
    And really, who could actively hate YOU?

  6. As a high school English teacher myself... I give a wholehearted UGH to Crime and Punishment. That is 100% the wrong book to get teenagers (yes, even AP teens) excited about classic literature. Good luck!

  7. I love Dostoevsky. Granted, I didn't discover him until my first year in college when I took a Russian lit class, but after that, I was totally hooked.
    In hs, I read the entire summer reading list every year, even though you only had to read a handful of the books - I'd write papers & sell them to my friends, so it wasn't just out of intellectual curiosity, but I do sort of eat books. Especially during the summer. It's a good excuse to sit by the pool or on the beach. March is good reading time too.
    I've had the same hairdresser for eons - I actually begged mine to come out of 'retirement' as to not stop cutting my hair - I couldn't find anyone else I liked. (She had given it to sell real estate after her youngest graduated from high school.) Currently my ends are quite crunchy, which I know she's going to lecture me about, but she can't fit me in until the end of the month. Edie won't let anyone else touch her hair now either. We're quite the pair, aren't we?
    As for happy, sweet things, you'll just have to come see my latest post.

  8. Hey, cool, I taught FALLEN ANGELS back in the 90s when I taught remedial HS English, YES it was loved! As far as "classics" like C and P, why bother? There are so many good books out there...

  9. I had to read C&P three times in six years for three different classes (1 in HS and 2 in college). What I said back then was that it was crime to write it and a punishment to read it. I haven't touched Dostoyevsky in 20+ years, so I cannot say if I like him or not, only that I hated him back in the day.

    I hope the haircut works out. After many years of seriously bad hair, I finally found Richard the Hair God seven year ago and have never looked back. I hope he never leaves me because I don't know what I'd do.

  10. Crime and Punishment is on my reading list, but now I am afraid to read it. It was on the syllabus in my AP English class in high school, but it took us so long to get through Anna Karenina, we didn't have time for C&P. Anna, you did not live in vain.

  11. That is awesomely awesome to have all meals at home,while starting a job that requires such energy.

    Try to find a moment to look at photos of your kids when they were babies. Every baby has exquisite beauty.

  12. One summer about 10 years ago, I listened to C&P via books on tape - I would listen as I did my 5 mile walk up and down the hills in the neighborhood. I lost a lot of weight that summer by walking the hills and sweating while listening to a book in which I didn't like one character - I kept thinking this has to get better, surely it does - it didn't.

  13. I have not liked most of the "classic" literature I've had to read. I think it's just the writing style --it never pulls me into the story. I never had to read C&P, but I believe the assigning of really awful books in hs is probably why Cliff Notes were invented :-) I think it must be very challenging to be enthusiastic about a book you don't like, and then try to move that enthusiasm over to your students. It sounds exhausting.

    The sweetness here is that our snow cover is slowly sublimating away, and there are birds singing in the mornings.

  14. I think Dostoyevsky is the greatest, but don't know how much a high school age student can understand him. Better for college I think. Maybe if rather than lecturing, you ask lots of questions about what is going on the students will get something out of it. I hope so.

  15. I believe I warned you about that book, lol. I can't fathom one using it as anything other than punishment for high school students.


Spill it, reader.