Category: musings


Sunday Salon: Local Election

Posted 22 May, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, memes, musings

sunday salon books

Time // 12:26 P.M. EDT

Feeling //  Exhausted. So exhausted. The local Judge’s election is on Tuesday and the mudslinging has been epic. All of my non-work friends (and my husband) are exceedingly bored with me because at this point the election is all consuming and leading me to be extra snippy and just generally boring. Just keep swimming, April.

just keep swimming

Reading //  Just finished the upcoming Blake Crouch novel. Review forthcoming. Also working on the new George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo, it’s very Faulkner-eqsue. Read: Fabulous. There are so many books from BEA waiting for me, this keeps me excited. I’m hoping to get some regular reviews going here again.

Living //  With the windows open! I feel like I need to start running again – partially because the stress of this election has me off the charts. I know that the endorphins from running would definitely help me more than stalking election sites on Facebook, but… effort.

Blogging // Yes, I saw all the BEA brou-ha-ha on Twitter this past week. I agree with most bloggers that it’s rather dated and boring. Let me be clear on my position. The sentiment that I largely agree with is this:

Publishers owe me nothing. In return, I owe publishers nothing. I have no problem with book bloggers that are able to monetize their blogs, as long as they are upfront about the monetization. That doesn’t necessarily make their opinions on books more or less valid than mine. Please stop telling me that I don’t know my worth. I know my worth. The thing is that the worth of me writing book reviews (or writing in general) is less than what I’m willing to accept to give this up as a hobby. Taking money for my blog turns this into a job. I have a job that I love, I don’t need another one – therefore – it’s not worth it to me to seek out paying opportunities to review. If this means that publishers don’t send me ARCs or I can’t attend BEA because I’m not actually a part of the industry – that’s okay. I guess what I’m trying to say to authors, bloggers, and Twitterers who try to say that if I’m not charging for my reviews I’m just another cog in the machine, is this:

election

There’s so much more going on in my head, Reader but, you guessed it! It’s mostly regarding this local election that bores everyone but those involved. Someone send me an easy way to Zen.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Recovering from BEA

Posted 15 May, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, memes, musings

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So I got home from BEA yesterday night. It was a whirlwind good time and I’m really pleased with how it went. I got to hang out with some amazing women (at the very least I must mention Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books, Shannon from River City Reading, and Marisa from The Daily Dosage – though there were many, many more).  Additionally, I picked up a ridiculous amount of books and now shouldn’t have a shortage for reading or reviewing for quite a time. I’m hoping to start writing reviews again or at least some discussion posts. Let’s see if we can’t get this blog rolling again, shall we?

I was really impressed with many of the publishers at BEA and how polite and helpful most of the publicists were despite what had to be long days on their feet. Hachette had an exceptionally organized booth and it was amazingly easy to access the ARCs that I was interested in.

Chicago is such an excellent city, I definitely ate all the things, though oddly that did not include Chicago style pizza, which I do love.

Tomorrow, I must return to work. It’s a probation day no less, which is usually the most unpleasant of court days. The local judge’s election that is giving me so much heartburn will be over in nine days which is not nearly soon enough.

Hm, I thought I had more to say on this, Reader. C’est la vie. How was your week?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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BEA 16: Books Off the Beaten Path

Posted 11 May, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, books and publishing, musings, Reading, Topics

BEA 16: Books off the Beaten Path

Just like most literary fiction bloggers going to BEA this go around of course I’m looking forward to and hoping to get my grubby little paws on the new Ann Patchett and George Saunders. As a apocalypse, horror, vampire blogger of course I’m looking forward to the thrilling conclusion of the Justin Cronin trilogy. The beach blogger in me admittedly might like to see what new thing Charlaine Harris will be pimping. But since I’m a little bit of an off the beaten path blogger I thought I might share some not-so-mainstream books that I’m hoping to encounter this year at BEA.

John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History by: Leon Wildes (ABA Publishing)

“For the first time, noted New York immigration attorney Leon Wildes tells the incredible story of this landmark case – John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. — that set up a battle of wills between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and President Richard Nixon. Although Wildes did not even know who John Lennon and Yoko Ono were when he was originally retained by them, he developed a close relationship with them both during the eventual five-year period while he represented them and thereafter. This is their incredible story.”

Truffle Boy: My Unexpected Journey Through the Exotic Food Underground by: Ian Purkayastha (Hachette)

“A self-described oddball kid from Arkansas, Ian Purkayastha found his true calling when he learned to forage mushrooms and tasted his first truffle. An instant passion for the delicacy sparked an improbable yet remarkable journey to New York to become the leading truffle importer in America in the dynamic and sometimes shady world of the exotic food trade. Today, at age 23, Ian has built a multi-million dollar specialty foods company with clients as renowned as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and David Chang. As “farm-to-table” becomes “forest-to-table,” Truffle Boy provides a unique view into the world of luxury sourcing, while delivering a coming of age story that will charm foodies and business readers alike.”

Mischling by: Affinity Konar (Hachette)

“It’s 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.

As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.”

Tacky Goblin by: T. Sean Steele (Consortium)

“An aimless twenty-something struggles to make sense of reality after he moves to Los Angeles to live with his older sister. His legs are rotting, his apartment is haunted, and he’s in charge of taking care of a human baby that might actually be a dog. On top of it all, he has trouble making friends. Tacky Goblin blunders through particularly strange but familiar misadventures to remind us that, ultimately, learning to take care of yourself is hard.”

The Motion of Puppets by: Keith Donohue (MacMillan)

“In the Old City of Québec, Kay Harper falls in love with a puppet in the window of the Quatre Mains, a toy shop that is never open. She is spending her summer working as an acrobat with the cirque while her husband, Theo, is translating a biography of the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Late one night, Kay fears someone is following her home. Surprised to see that the lights of the toy shop are on and the door is open, she takes shelter inside.

The next morning Theo wakes up to discover his wife is missing. Under police suspicion and frantic at her disappearance, he obsessively searches the streets of the Old City. Meanwhile, Kay has been transformed into a puppet, and is now a prisoner of the back room of the Quatre Mains, trapped with an odd assemblage of puppets from all over the world who can only come alive between the hours of midnight and dawn. The only way she can return to the human world is if Theo can find her and recognize her in her new form. So begins the dual odyssey of Keith Donohue’s The Motion of Puppets: of a husband determined to find his wife, and of a woman trapped in a magical world where her life is not her own.”

The Last Days of Night by: Graham Moore (Random House)

“New York, 1888. The miracle of electric light is in its infancy, and a young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society—the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing Paul is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal—private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown attorney shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it? In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.”

So, those are some of the books off the beaten path I’ll be looking for at BEA, Reader. Any other suggestions? What are you looking forward to this fall?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Easter Edition

Posted 27 March, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings

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Time // 12:04 EDT.

Watching // DVRed episodes of The Walking Dead. Trying to catch up so me and Mr. SFR can watch the final episodes of this season together. Is there weird sexual tension between Rick and Michonne or is it me? Edit: Just finished the episode.. oh shit!

Also, Better Call Saul might be the most underrated show on television. I love it.

Joined // Snapchat. All the kids are doing it, you can find me there as steadfastreader. I’ve also been using a new app to track my water intake called Plant Nanny. It’s adorable and pretty effective. Apparently, your water intake should be based on your weight and activity level. Right now I’m supposed to be drinking 102 oz a day.

Plant Nanny

Plant Nanny

Playing //  Games with co-workers last night! We played Zombicide which is a totally bitchin’ cooperative game where you get to kill massive amounts of zombies. It was all fun and games until I was sacrificed to save the rest of the group. Easter appropriate.

Also started playing the computer game Factorio. It’s fun, but likely to be a giant time suck.

Reading // A bunch of stuff. Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, which I’m enjoying. A People’s History of the United States is hard listening, but I think absolutely necessary. Also still wending my way through Gaiman’s The Sandman.

Hmmm… I feel like there’s more, Reader but I guess I’ll have to edit the post as it come to me later. How’s your Easter Sunday going?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Working Edition

Posted 28 February, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

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Time // 12:20 PM EDT

Or it could be named: “It’s Sunday so why not work, edition.” Just got off the phone with a victim who said to me,”I can’t believe your working today.” Yeah. Well. At least I’m working from home. Then I took a phone call from a defense lawyer. The fun never ends.

Hubs is refinishing the doors to the fireplace so it looks less eighties-fabulous. We’ll see how that turns out.

Reading // my way through the Tournament of Books Shortlist. Let’s look at how it’s going. Watch your Instagram.

Tournament of Books 2016 Short-List

  • The New World by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz – review
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty – Currently in DNF status. Trying to revive.
  • Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson – Read
  • The Turner House by Angela Flournoy – review
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – review
  • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – review
  • Ban en Banlieue by Bhanu Kapil – I’m worried about the availability of this one.
  • The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli – Owned and on the list to read.
  • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra – Read
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen – Read
  • The Whites by Richard Price – review
  • Oreo by Fran Ross – Semi-DNFed
  • The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard – Read
  • The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak – review
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – review

Play-In Round

  • Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving – Just bought the audio, let’s face it… I was going to read this anyway.
  • A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler – Zero interest. Might read it if it actually gets in.

I’m pretty amped at my progress, but also a little disappointed with the selections this year. I haven’t found nearly as many that have blown me away the way they did last year.

I also started The Man in the High Castle after finishing the first season on Amazon Prime. The series appears to be only related to the book in the loosest sense. We’ll see.

Ruffled Feathers // yesterday with my coloring post. I didn’t mean to and in retrospect I wrote it because I really felt alone in not getting the coloring fad. Now I know I’m not. 🙂 Still, good for the colorists! Just not for me.

Edit // Oh! I almost forgot! We went to the circus yesterday (husband’s idea). We all know that among my causes animals and the environment rank pretty low on things that concern me, but I had to stop and think about the absolute hubris of man, of (hu)man(s) in the 21st century that we train wild and majestic animals like tigers and elephants to entertain us by doing parlor tricks. It’s disconcerting to me. Perhaps I think too much. The dogs, horses, and camels don’t bother me… why not? My only guess is that they’re domesticated. I knew there was something else I wanted to put out there. Okay, more working.

I thought I had more to say, but I have a pile of cases that have to be reviewed before arraignment on Wednesday not to mention motions to prepare for tomorrow. What are you doing with your Sunday, Reader?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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What I’m Going to Say May Sound Indelicate: Adult Coloring

Posted 27 February, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings

adult coloring, really?

Confession time. I don’t get this adult coloring craze (or the crazy day planner thing for that matter). I’ve tried. My boss bought me the Art Therapy Star Wars coloring book for Christmas, and even my love of Star Wars can’t make me get into it. My favorite page is this one full of Yodas (the only page I’ve come even close to making any real progress on) that one of my best good friends J. and I colored while waiting for a verdict to come back (guilty on all counts, yay me!).

yoda coloring

Now, what I’m going to say may sound indelicate, is adult coloring the death of women’s intellectualism and creativity? It’s clearly been branded a ‘woman thing‘ and we are eating up the marketing like no one’s business (or perhaps more accurately big business). Now, I’ve seen the countless articles on how allegedly therapeutic it can be. But the fact is, that the science doesn’t seem to be there to support it.

“Some people are adamant that coloring books are a path to mindfulness, meditation and some kind of psychological nirvana,” Malchiodi said over the phone. “I find that many of the loudest proponents are actually those that create the coloring books.”

-Cathy Malchiodi, art therapist

The Guardian

So back to the death of women’s intellectualism and creativity, I certainly consider myself a work-a-holic in a relatively high-stress profession. What did women used to do to de-stress? I contend they used to read. They used to knit, crochet, play piano, and yes, create art through painting, drawing, sketching, or even doodling. They used to write. Work crossword puzzles. Now. We’re coloring. I’m not saying that moms and work-a-holics alike aren’t still doing these things, but for every hour we devote to coloring is an hour that we are not doing these things. We are spending our hard earned dollars on prefabricated art for us where our greatest thought is only to choose colors and shading to fill in at our leisure. To me it’s a bit of infantilization that my generation has been seeing it it’s men for a long time.

Is this our fate, ladies? Are we to continue to prop up large corporate publishers only to allow our minds to atrophy? I don’t know. I’m not a therapist or a doctor. This is clearly only my opinion and despite it, I have no wish to shit on people who this works for to help them relax from the increasing stresses of modern life. As usual, this is just me airing another unpopular opinion.

Finally, a word of warning to my dearest colorists out there. Remember my best good friend J.? She colored so hard she ended up with trigger thumb and is looking at the possibility of surgery (I laughed, I confess). So be careful.

coloring dangers

Gurl. I love you. Get some markers.

So, Reader. Thoughts? I’ll end with a paraphrase from the wise Amy Poehler. If this is your jam, that’s great for you! Not for me.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Justice Scalia Edition

Posted 14 February, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings

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Time // 8:11 A.M. EDT

News // In U.S. politics, of course Justice Scalia is dead. It’s too soon for the Dick Cheney jokes, but there you have it. This is a huge game changer both with the court and with the upcoming presidential elections. President Obama, for his part, has vowed to have a replacement appointed before he leaves office — but whether he can do that remains to be seen. Vox published an interesting article on who he might nominate and who has the best chances of getting confirmed, assuming the Senate Republicans aren’t just blocking nominations to be politically difficult.

But can they really do that? The Washington Post seems to think they might and SCOTUSblog talks about the possibility of a recess appointment if that happens. I can’t find the article that I read last night discussing the idea that in the event of a Hillary or Bernie victory that President Obama gets appointed. It’s not unprecedented, William Taft was appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1921, after his presidency. I’m not going to lie, Michelle, also a lawyer, would make a pretty badass appointee as well. (That is unprecedented.)

political scalia

Look, I make it a practice of never being happy when an individual dies, no matter how repugnant I may find them. I wish those close to him my most sincere condolences, but I think the court is in a position to be better for the American people. We shall see. In the meantime NPR has five opinions from Justice Scalia that you really should read. If nothing else, the man could write a mean dissent.

Anything Else? // I’ll admit that Scalia dominated dinner conversation between me and Mr. SFR last night and it’s still occupying my thoughts today. But I have also been doing some decent reading this week. Finished up at least one more book slated for the Tournament of Books. Started Oreo which is also on the Tournament of Books short list, but I’m finding myself exhausted by racial discourse recently. I’m aware that from the position of privilege from which I sit that’s not really a fair thing to say, but my frustration lies with people of my own privilege and station refusing to recognize it.

Simply by the virtue of the fact that I am white means I am privileged.

The fact that I am white and well educated makes me very privileged.

The fact that I am white, well educated, and socio-economically can be considered (at least) middle class makes me extremely privileged.

Why is that so hard for white people to say/recognize?

Lent // Of course I’m not Catholic, but I do like the practice of Lent and my goal is to get 7,000 steps in a day. I’ll tell you, a proactive goal is much harder than a goal of giving something up for me. Though in the reverse you could say that I’m giving up sitting on my ass. 🙂

Okay Reader, I’ve been a political minefield this morning. How’s your week been? Feelings on Justice Scalia? White privilege? Been reading any books?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Lazy Days

Posted 7 February, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings

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I’m too lazy even to format this post with much. I’ve been doing a lot of reading this past week I’m making some good headway into the Tournament of Books 2016. Managed to devour the entirety of The Invaders yesterday and I thought it was fabulous. Finished Bats of the Republic, started on The Tsar of Love and Techno, I’ve make it through the first two stories and I think it’s going to prove an excellent read as well.

What else? Started Weight Watchers last Monday and I’m pretty much feeling hangry all the time. I’m thinking of just re-reading Dietland and reminding myself that my health is the most important thing. I’m happy enough with my size most of the time…

Sort of zoning out while I’m writing this post half watching whatever the Sunday Morning ABC show is, talking about New Hampshire. I hate to say it, but I think Hillary is fucked. There are people out there with such vitriol towards Clinton for reasons that they are unable to articulate. That being said, I love me some Bernie Sanders.

In a similar yet unrelated vein I find myself quoting Ronald Reagan at work, mostly on probation days, “Trust but verify.” What is happening to me?

My plans for the day are few… more reading, maybe playing some internet card games… sitting around… not eating. :/ Being lazy.

Tomorrow is the best day of the year, the farthest point of the year until I have to start hearing about football again.

Whatcha reading, Reader?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Night Post

Posted 31 January, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings

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Time // 8:38 PM EDT

Feeling // Injured. I tore the shit out of something in my knee last night. Probably something to do with three inch heels at The Girl’s ‘Winter Ball’. It was a fundraiser for the school — the new school, not the beastly place she was in. (Yep, gonna keep on linking that until half the world has seen it…) I also seem to be brewing a headache.

Planning // BEA is coming up. Deciding what to do about that. I should be able to spare three days in May, depending on whether or not it falls during a trial calendar.

Reading // Bats of the Republic. Guys, it’s not only a compelling story told in a new way, it’s a beautiful looking book. I love the way Tournament of Books introduces me to books that I wouldn’t have otherwise have picked up.

Watching // Broadchurch, finished the first season and the first few episodes of the second season. I love how it’s revealing the differences between the British and American justice systems. Makes me think I should read more about it. The Children Act was good for that, but I’d like to learn more.

Okay, enough for now, Readers. How was your week?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Dear Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori:

Posted 22 January, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings

An Open Letter to Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori penned by Annasaurus Rex, edited by me.

To Whom it May Concern:

I would like to express my extreme concern about the running of Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori. Not only is there a severe lack of communication between teachers and parents, but student welfare does not seem to be a priority. Additionally, it appears the administration lets the staff run wild, making decisions willy-nilly with no cohesive rules or regulations to govern their actions.

First there is the issue of communication. My daughter, The Girl, was asked to leave school and there was virtually no warning or reasoning. The weak reason given was that she was disruptive in class. Putting aside the fact that my mother observed The Girl in class and found she was no more disruptive than a normal pre-Kindergarten child, the fact that I received only two phone calls, a single note, and a meeting request before the request to leave strikes me as bizarre. With something as serious as this, surely there should be more of a process in place.

Also, I am baffled by the lack of involvement of the administration at Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori. Teachers are allowed to kick students out of school, making decisions that influence revenue without any oversight? Putting aside that odd business model, it seems out of line with the school’s principles that a child would be rejected without even attempting a solution involving the parents. I suppose I am especially astounded because this decision appears to have been arrived at with little to no thought at all. It was treated as a mere trifle, like deciding to wear a green shirt instead of a red one. However, it was my child’s education and mental well-being that was dismissed so easily. These actions show a major lack of concern about student welfare, which is especially concerning for an early education program. These are formative years for the children at Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori and it seems their welfare is a low priority for the teachers and administration alike.

Why was there no warning about the request that my daughter not return? Is that any way to run a school? Is there no process in place for children exhibiting unacceptable behaviors? Even criminals are given three strikes with ample warnings. Perhaps I could have become more involved if I was given a real warning about the escalation of The Girl’s status within the classroom. However, I was given no reason to believe she was about to be asked to leave, or that her behavior was anything other than normal, therefore I could do nothing to help the situation. Was the teacher willfully withholding information, hope to have The Girl leave the school? Given the circumstances that does not seem like an illogical leap. The fact that a seasoned teacher is willing to dump a student this quickly with no thought is alarming to say the least.

The fact that a Montessori school doesn’t bother to find the source of an unwanted behavior and work with parents and child to improve the situation is disturbing, especially considering the amount of money being spent. What exactly were we paying for? Overpriced day care? A bit of casual thought and observation show an obvious reason behind The Girl’s disruptive behavior – she was bored. Her teacher only let her do the same five activities day in and day out. Now, imagine you are a five year old, one who loves to learn as my daughter does, and I think you can understand why she was frustrated and unhappy. Why, then, is the solution to kick her out of school? This can only have damaging psychological effects, teaching her that school is a place where she will be rejected and dismissed easily. Is this what your school teaches children? I thought the Montessori way was to instill a lifetime love of learning. Your school has done exactly the opposite of that.

I have no delusions that The Girl is a perfect child, but I do know her. The levels of frustration she reached while attending Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori was unprecedented, as was her behavior in the days surrounding her being asked to leave. She can be willful and resistant to certain responsibilities just like a normal pre-Kindergarten aged child. She does not have abnormal behavioral issues, and the fact that her teacher suggested she does tells me she is a bully who wants to shift blame onto those who cannot defend themselves. The fact that she brought up that The Girl was admitted to the school due to a “favor” multiple times tells me she may have a personal vendetta against my daughter. This is petty, sad and unacceptable in any adult, but especially in an early education teacher.

Overall, I am happy The Girl will no longer be exposed to the toxic environment of that classroom, but it is worrisome that her teacher continues to have dozens of children under her care. She will surely have to find another child to pick on now that mine is now safely removed from her reach. I look forward to working in partnership with a school that appreciates children and values their education and well-being. Your school has failed in all areas and I count my family lucky that we are no longer contributing to a rotten institution.

Regards,

April

 

 

 

 

So, this has been taking up my time, dear Reader, how’ve you been? Also, while it would be a delight to name names on what school this is, I cannot do so publicly at this point because in the bylaws you sign when you enroll your child there you must agree not to gossip or spread negativity about Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori. Weird. Unless this has happened before.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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