Tuesday, May 13, 2014

“Use your imagination only on the future, never on the present or thepast.” - Adam Johnson

So... when I last mentioned what I'd be reading, I said I'd have my head in a GRE study guide. My studying paid off - I got a good score on my GRE and submitted an application to graduate school in late April. In early May, I was notified that I have been accepted into the Masters of Education program with an emphasis in Educational Technology and a focus on technology in schools at the University of Missouri-Columbia! The EdTech program is completely online, and I if I want to get educational assistance through my work for each class, I will finish in 2 years.

Go me!

But before I submitted my application and was admitted, we made two trips to St. Louis on consecutive weekends. The first weekend, Mr. Awesome had to work on one day, so that left me to find something to occupy my day. Off to the Saint Louis Art Museum for hours of leisurely viewing and a fancy lunch at the museum restaurant, Panorama. I had such a great time wandering the halls and staring at beautiful things.

That evening, we ate an incredible dinner at one of St. Louis's best restaurants, Niche. Oh my, was that a great meal. We opted for the 10-course tasting menu, and every course was outstanding. It's not often that I taste something I've not had before, but here it happened many times. From the tea service (tea and pork broth with smoked lemon!) to snacks of trout beignets and gin/celery popsicles, to an incredible parsnip soup with ice cream... everything was perfect. Our server was attentive, friendly and informed. Cocktails were creative and delicious. One of the best dining experiences we've ever had.

The next night, we had the pleasure of seeing a small house concert performance by one of our favorite musicians, Eef Barzelay. He's so incredibly talented. Why this guy isn't a superstar, I don't know.

Check out a great video of him via NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series here.

The following weekend, we returned to St. Louis, this time to see Ben Folds perform with the St. Louis Symphony. We had front row seats right next to the piano. It was spectacular. We ate at Niche again before the show. It was spectacular, too.

After I found out I had been accepted to graduate school - and believe me, I was nervous (although Mr. Awesome said I didn't need to be because he is, of course, awesome) - I got to pick up something other than a study guide or math problems for a change. While in St. Louis the second time, we stopped at Barnes and Noble for a few minutes to look around. It was there I picked up The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson. Lucky for me, it was available for digital checkout through my library - I love that!

North Korea is a fascinating place, made even more so by the mystery that surrounds it and its people. It's easy from the vantage point of an American upbringing and existence to question why the people of North Korea would submit to the wills of the rulers, but a reading of The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson sheds a little light on the situation.

There's something comforting about having your reality dictated to you, it implies. When you have no choices, you have no reason to think about anything, other than the task at hand, and Dear Leader, of course.

The storytelling in this book is masterful, switching between narrators, and immersing the reader in a world of unknowns. Nothing is predictable, nothing feels safe. There's danger around every corner, but also the promise of hope, and a sense of deep love. You can't ask for a better set of criteria for a good story.

I don't start school again until the fall, so I'll have a few months to read for fun. Next up, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake.