Saturday, December 24, 2005

we're off!

The car is waiting downstairs and we are finishing up putting together snacks.

Off we go!

See you on the other side! Happy Holidays, Friends!

Friday, December 23, 2005

At long last, vacation has begun!

It really doesn't feel like it yet, but it will when I get on that plane tomorrow!

Today went just fine. The getting up at regular time sucked, and the periods felt like they lasted forever and a day. But the kids were an excellent audience for Special Mystery Guest Mom. All the teachers were merry and had treats and games and it was nice.

After school, Mom and I went to Target for some trip stuff, but then, naturally, caught the monstrous Queens Blvd traffic heading east/south. It took nearly an hour to get to the restaurant we were going to. Three teachers and us met up for dinner and drinks and to just chill. It was very pleasant: we talked about traveling, errant students, and growing up with strict parents (or not, in my case; it didn't matter for me because I was such a nerd). I had some yummy nachos and Mom and I shared a strawberry margarita.

I have been getting cards and presents from my students all week, collecting them and saving them til tomorrow morning. There's quite a pile! I was so surprised and touched, and now I'm all giddy about all the gifts I get to open! Hurrah.

And then we have to PACK because we are leaving in less than 24 hours! Holy Crap!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


This week is really fucking long. At least tomorrow's the last day.

Mom got in fine on Wednesday morning, and I was able to pick her up at the airport because of the delayed opening. Last night we went out to eat in my old neighborhood. It was a chain restaurant but everything was very yummy, so we didn't mind the 'inauthenticity'.

Today was a super non-day because a morning-long assembly plus the late start. So to the two periods I had classes, they read a little and then I read them the Grimms' Cinderella. They were very good: they listened raptly but also took notes in their Venn diagrams, as instructed. (Me to the students: Now, just in case anyone comes in and says, hey, why are you having fun instead of working? we say, We ARE working hard on l!stening comprehens!on and note-taking!) They responded quickly to the gore in the story and had some great observations and analyses to make about the tale compared to the Disneyfied version.

The evening was a ridiculous disaster. We had tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. And I had an email final to take. We figured I'd just do the final as quickly as possible and then go into the city. However, with the strike and lack of available cars, driving was the best option. Even still, okay.

Then, Mom called and left a panicked message: our tickets were for the 5.00 show, not the 7 or 7.30 show. Oh, crap. I got home at 3, emailed another late assignment, changed and we got in the car at 3.30. It took the entire hour and a half to get to Rockefeller Center. CRAZY and STUPID traffic.

The show was fine. The bits without the actual Rockettes were kind of silly and dumb--but that's why it's a "family" (meaning kid) show. The Rockettes were cool. I was quickly reminded that live dancing in unison is one of my favorite things. The ending was a huge living Nativity, complete with real camels and sheep. But all the Jesus love was so not up my alley (or my mom's either). Anyway.

The drive home also took an hour and a half. I had had no dinner, I was very tired, and also worried about this stupid final. It was like the universe had conspired to make this the worst, longest day.

Right when I got home, I got to work on the final. Emailed it an hour later with a short apology/explanation note at the top. Who knows what will happen.

Mom's nano iPod finally got the right songs updated.

Tomorrow is Friday and I have to be up all early again. Boo!

However, the kids are excited to meet the Special Mystery Guest. And after school a few of us teachers are going out for food and drinks. That will be an enjoyable way to kick off the vacation.

Holy shit, we have a week off!

I am so glad!

And so, so tired. Goodnight. Happy Friday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


The nail in the coffin: Mr CuteTeacher is planning on proposing to his [real] girlfriend. Sigh.


You go, Transit Workers! I don't really know how to show that I support them, so I'll just say it. When I turned on the tv, some stupid reporter asked a picketing transit guy something like, "People are saying shame on you for doing this. What do you say to that?" The guy responded, "Hey, all the city has to do is give us a fair contract. It's not our fault; we deserve a good contract." Amen!


I swear that I saw on a news update that some transit bigwig said the strike would last at least til Thursday. Any other sightings or confirmations of this, or do we have to do this day-by-day thing?


I went to my school's big show last night (can't give more details than that). A bunch of my students performed in different ways, and it was very cool to see them. I congratulated them all either last night after the show or today at school. A couple quiet and studious girls really blew me away with their stage presence. Awesome.


At first, it seemed like a lot of our students were not here today...but only sorta. We are in a very residential neighborhood and area, so tons of kids walk or are driven. I actually said to them, "Why are so many of y'all here today? This is a free day!" One boy said, "It's boring at home!" So cute. They totally love school.

We'll see what happens tomorrow on a possible second day of strike. I wonder, more or fewer kids?


We actually had an altered schedule today, for the first time ever, when each period was still there, just shortened to accommodate the late start. As much as I like being lazy on the days when they just cut off the missed classes, it is nice to see all the classes. Though I had a "lesson" (really just the group work continuing from the lesson yesterday) ready for today, I was totally planning on doing other educational things. But people kept talking about "Fifteen days before the t@st" and "We are already behind" and "There's so much to do" blah blah that I had the kids actually do the work. But tomorrow I might deviate just a teeny bit: still do l!sten!ng compr@hension, but with either Cinderella or Rumplestilskin.


I got my first mail at my new place: one address-change confirmation from my RothIRA, and two notes from friends. Hurrah, friends! I'm actually saving them for when I snuggle in my nice bed with music and a book.


Mom's flight leaves in a few hours. Wish her a good flight and quiet neighbors. If the strike is continuing, I would be able to get her at the airport and bring her here instead of her taking a cab to the school until I have a prep. The traffic on the westward freeways will probably be a bitch, though, so I need to take that into consideration.


I have a project thingy for grad school due tomorrow, a literacy lesson plan. I finished writing the lesson this evening. However, there's a bunch of other crap to do as well, self evaluations and adaptations and all that nonsense. I figure I did the hard part already and I'll do the rest of it tomorrow night while Mom is resting or watching a movie or something. And of course there's an online final on Thursday...blech. CAN'T STAND semesters of college! Four goddamn months is too stinking long for one term. And ending the week of Christmas? I really miss UW and WWU, with their ten-week quarters and finals in early December. Much more reasonable, if you ask me. We only have three courses left to take, thank god.


We've got a few more teachers galvanized for the next game night. Did I ever mention the first one? It was Thanksgiving weekend, and only five of us. We played Uno and a monster game of Turbo Cranium. It was really fun and we were talking about it this morning. I think we have at least three or four more people for the next one, perhaps the weekend after the B!G SCARY T@ST! And guess what, it is hopefully going to be at my place! Since there's actually a living room/dining room with real furniture, as long as the roommate approves, everyone will come over here with snacks and alcohol and have a grand old-fashioned time.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ever notice how singledom goes in cycles?

After a relationship, there's obviously the mourning period (even if you were the one that ended it). You miss having the stability, the familiar face, the voice that doesn't need to identify itself, the comfort.

Sooner or later, you get that feeling of relief and freedom. You aren't tied down! You don't have to spend time with the other's family or friends. You can spend the entire Saturday night eating ice cream if you want. And you don't have to run it past anyone! You don't have to do a perfunctory Saturday Night Couples Activity (get your heads out of the gutter; I'm talking about social things like movies, dinner, clubs, whatever).

Eventually, the shine of solidarity wears off a bit and your eyes open up to the multitude of attractive people around you. Ooh, look over there. You flirt, you hope, maybe you start dating again.

Soon enough, that scene gets old and you start looking at those cuties more and more often. You hope that one of them is really great and you start daydreaming about them, but of course you get really disappointed when they don't pay you enough attention. You know they're already taken, but you can't help that little seed of hope that they'll see the light in you.

You start getting lonely. You start feeling extra, truly alone. You long for a familiar face again, for inside jokes, for someone to scratch your back without being asked, for a steady date each weekend. You feel bitter when your friends are in a happy relationship--or in a relationship at all. Romantic comedies make you sigh with hope but glare with disappointment that it's not you being swept away by a handsome, dashing, funny man. You wonder what is wrong with you. Why doesn't anyone see the gorgeous princess you know you are? Ha, yeah right, what a horrible monster you must be; that's why you're single! That must be the reason. You wistfully think about past lovers and paramours and flirtations, and you wonder where it all went wrong with each of them. You wonder why that one cutie three years ago never called you when clearly there was a real connection between you. You might even contemplate calling or emailing your ex, to reassure yourself that at one point, you were both lovable and loved.

So you sit at home on the weekends, being dull and boring and you ache for companionship. You would give anything to have a warm pair of arms to wrap around you at the end of a long and frustrating day, to get out and see all those great movies that keep coming out, to hang out in new and different bars, to go to all the restaurants you've only heard about. You feel like this solitude will imprison you for the rest of time, that nothing can and nobody will rescue you.

You know that it's just part of the cycle, you've been here before and you'll be here again, but still and nonetheless, it feels interminable. And it really and truly and utterly sucks.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


When I got home after school, I took a nap for about an hour. Then I got up and started getting stuff together and cleaning and packing my car. That took until 6.00, when I left and went to the new place. It took til 7.00 to unload the car by myself. I had to go back again, get my laundry and bedding and some kitchen stuff. But then I was back at the new place again, only a couple trips up, and spent the next two hours organizing and stuff.

And I made some decent progress; I was pretty proud of myself and relieved, too. First I set up the bed, then the computer. Priorities, people. (The tv was already there and working, so I didn't have to do anything with that. Though I do need to connect the VCR.) Most of the clothes got hung up in the closet right away, so I didn't need to do much with that. I put together the wire box thingies that Mom and I bought this time last year. I set up the big plastic shelf left over from an old roommate. Put things away in the bathroom and a few things away in the kitchen.

I still have a number of boxes to go through and find stuff. I'm going to keep the boxes of books separate and unopened for now; gotta save room for other stuff first.

I was totally going to call in for the Saturday thing and not go; I figured that moving is a pretty damn good excuse for not working. But I got a good amount done last night, and got a fairly good night's sleep, that I couldn't give up the money for three hours' work.

I'm still at school, using the ethernet connection. The online things at my new home work, but my desktop didn't really work last night, and I don't want to chance it, so I'm sitting in the teachers' lounge, tummy rumbling, catching up on email and blogs like the nerd I totally am.

From here I'm going to go shopping, for shelves/dressers and/or groceries. Mm, food. Oh shit, and I should load up a few more things from the old place. Grr! Moving sucks.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Holy crap, I'm tired

YAWN! I hate this week. Or, to put a positive spin, I am THRILLED that today is FRIDAY.

Last night's move only worked about halfway. My friend came over and we packed up both our cars, but then had to wait two hours (after 8.30) until my new roommate was home and could let us in. But we still got a ton of stuff; there's really just the big stuff to go now: a couple shelves, the computer pieces, the stereo, the last of the clothes and bedding. So I will work on that this afternoon, hopefully with some help.

I did end up sleeping at the old (crazy) place last night, as it was so late and I hate having to orient myself to a new place when it's already past my bedtime. And oh my damn, I am plum exhausted. I about fell asleep WHILE teaching my last period class.

Fifteen more minutes and I can get out of here. And take a nap, do laundry, and finish packing.

My lucky mom is going to get to help me get all settled and unpacked, for the second Christmas in a row. She's flying in next Thursday morning, and then of course next Saturday afternoon we leave for our grand holiday adventure!

And I have a whole lot of money with which to play while on said adventure! The AmeriCorps money is in the bank, and the backpay check came yesterday. For only a first year teacher, I am really happy with the amount I got. Especially since because of this situation, I won't be paying rent til the 15th of each month and thus can save up even more. And/or spend it all on trips and gifts and possibly car maintenance (gotta get the brakes checked--always a scary proposition for the old checkbook). But in my bank account is more money than I have ever had in my whole life at one time--like five times more. It is a HUGE relief to know that I do NOT have to worry about everything, at least for the next few months. What freedom!

The kids were great today; we were all quiet and tired, I think. Definitely the numbers are dwindling quickly, what with the strike stuff -- go transit workers! stick it to Bloomie! -- and upcoming vacation. But Ms F did a great lesson this morning with a l!sten!ng pass@ge and ext#nded re$ponse, so I just copied it with my other two classes. The students worked hard and well, and I love them. Even though I was about to tip over from fatigue. They still do their job.

Of course, I very well may be singing a different tune come next week or the last week of January or the entire month of June. But for now, things at school/in the classroom are still going really well. Knock on wood.

Happy hour has to be cancelled this week, I think. I imagine that the rest of the world (or at least the education world) is as tired as I am, plus I gotta move more shit. So...I suppose we have to wait until after the holidays. I know I'll need some margaritas once the real countdown begins to the big bad te$t!

Happy Friday, all, let's all go get some rest!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More Miracles!

I got four boxes (smallish ones for books and all the random shit I have laying around) from school. More packing!

We still have power in our apartment! Two whole days in a row! It's still a lovely, pleasant, luxurious surprise. Getting dark? Just flip the switch! It's magic, I tell you! I love being in at least the twentieth century again, not to mention the twenty-first. As I type, a baked potato is nuking in the microwave, soon to be topped with cool butter-replacement-product. Then I will shred some pepperjack, sprinkle it on chips, and melt them into nacho heaven.

Tonight I will be paying the exiting roommate in the new place so I can have her furniture. And some colleagues told me about great thrift stores for furniture and clothes, that means I can pick up more shelves!

I got a voicemail that my AmeriCorps award is ready! I just have to pick it up!!!!
This means that I have NO FINANCIAL WOES. I can pay for my new place, I can pay my mom back for the Christmas air ticket and hotel, and I can pay off my Prague trip well in advance, AND I can put some into my RothIRA. The DOE backpay will be for savings and for fun on my trip. And probably some gifts for my family and friends. Now I will have no excuse.

Then, I turned on the computer--my faithful desktop, whose full keyboard I am so loving--and the internet works again.

Yay, world! Thank you, universe! At long last, the positive stuff is coming around again, and I am seeing the light; I'm nearing the end of the tunnel. Lord, am I grateful.

I am PUMPED for Happy Hour margaritas and some serious toasts. Whee!

Thank you!

Dear friends (who may or may not actually read this),

THANK YOU for all your support, encouragement, and good thoughts! It really means a lot to me that there is this wonderful network of good-hearted people, even if I haven't met them all in person. So thanks bunches. :)

I am really looking forward to Thursday afternoon. I will be picking up the keys on Wednesday (and may even sneak in a few boxes at that time), then I will take my packed-up car directly to my new home and begin moving. A couple people have offered to help--Tep, if you're in Queens and have a car or truck, I would love to have your help! :)--which should make things go much faster and more fun. I think it will be fairly easy to get all of it on Thursday, which means that happy hour on Friday is ON.

There is one more crazy-as-shit thing that happened on Sunday night, that I sort of heard but decided to ignore (that's why earplugs are worth their weight in gold!). The police had to come out AGAIN and now I am thoroughly convinced of the landlords' psychotic...ness. So, I'm just hoping that Thursday arrives without incident. "Hoping" not "expecting," mind you. Whatever. I just keep telling myself that the nightmare is almost over. Good things will come again very soon.

I'm still exhausted and worn out, so I am glad I stayed home. It was tough coming back to school today, in a Monday mindset, when everyone else had been here yesterday. But the day went fine. We reviewed te$t pr#p stuff and they finally got to use all the questions they and their peers had written. I think that was cool. Sadly, some of the questions were poorly written so there was either a lot of debate or choosing of the wrong answer. I tried not to interfere too much. The students did very well. They all stayed on task and worked hard, even if they forgot to do the steps in the right order, or if they were being bossy or passive. My kids are so good; I'll be totally spoiled for next year.

I have a couple errands to run and I *really* want to take a nap. And I can pack a little more; I gathered four book boxes to fill. Ooh, and guess what--I can watch tv again! I'm sort of excited, though I was glad that I was forced to be away. It made me remember that for the most part I don't care about tv and it doesn't really matter. Some shows, though, I was really upset about missing. Oh well, that's why TWoP is my friend.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Don't hold your breath;

I'm certainly not, but...

the power is back!

It did not come easily, I will tell you that. I returned from a full afternoon of apartment hunting (more on that in a sec), in the dark with some fast food for "dinner", only to find that our inner door was not only locked--which it has never once been--but the security chain was on. That was also very strange. I had a really bad feeling, but first called my roommates to make sure they weren't home. Sure enough, it was the PSYCHO LANDLORDS.

They were waiting for me/us inside their front door. The wife person claimed that she was scared of me because I was a stranger. Seriously, I am coming to believe she is some combination of insane and a pathological liar. Anyway, I reminded her that I have lived here for a year and a half, and they took our rental receipts two months ago (and have not given them back). She said something about asking me for an ID card (nope, she did not), and I said calmly that this was very illegal and I am calling the police. She was eager to see the police.

So I called 311 first, to make sure it was on record, but before I gave more information than "My landlord locked me out", I was connected to 911. Two policemen came out about ten minutes later and took a very aggressive, accusatory tone with *me.* I quickly and calmly explained the situation, and the "leader" asked if I had ID with my name and this address. I said, No, because I'm not from here and I'm a student. "Of course," he said all sarcastically. It was all I could do to not unleash some of my own teacher voice/attitude. They took my keys and at least agreed that yes, I have the keys that unlock the door, but the landlord had pulled the chain.

So we went around to the landlord's door and they started all their bullshit about us being strangers and illegal and maybe doing drugs (HUH?) and damage. On and on, lying and other insane things. I tried to correct a few of their more outrageous claims--that I have lived here for over a year and we only put locks on our bedroom doors to protect ourselves--but the police officer would not let me talk! He totally took their side and did not care a bit what I had to say.

The officer did at least say that clearly I am not a stranger, since I have the keys. He also said they have to take the chain off. But then he said, "I wish I could help you, but in New York the tenants have more rights than the owners. Take them to court tomorrow if you want."

Dude. As if WE are the bad guys here.

Anyway, the chain was taken off and I was able once again to enter my own apartment. A few minutes later, I left, though. When I came back a little after 11, the police were arriving at the same time, and my roommate (D) was standing at the door. Oh, for pete's sake.

The landlord's wife had apparently come upstairs around 11 and waited for our subleaseperson/roommate (Y) to come out of the shower. Remember there are no lights on. So understandably Y got very scared and freaked out and apparently called the police to report this unnecessary harassment. But the wifeperson was wailing and crying--she literally sounded like a five year old.

We all had to wait around while the police (who this time were a little more reasonable and neutral and not assholes) talked to the landlords for awhile. During this time, the police somehow convinced the landlord to turn the lights back on! We were all shocked and relieved but very cautious. We figured that ten minutes later, the power would be off again.

So I got to shower with the lights on for the first time in eleven days! It was kind of weird, actually; it felt a bit obscene since I could see my whole self and not just shadows and candlelight. I also got to turn on my computer! The internet has not worked at home for a couple days (but the connection is fine), which REALLY sucks. But at least we have power!

I didn't go to bed til about 12.30, and I was so exhausted and freaked out by the whole thing, that I called in to school. I decided that I really needed rest and time to begin packing.

In the afternoon, I saw three more apartments. One was in a brand-new place with two friendly Irish guys, but one of them was a smoker. That's kind of a deal-breaker for me. The next one was really nice, in an apartment building near my college and decent street parking, and over $100 less than what I'm paying now. The roommate is a young Indian girl who likes quiet and clean. The last one I saw was an ok, furnished room, a little further from the college, but the other person there was an older white hippie lady--she asked for my sign to check compatability!--and the price was the same as now. All of them are available immediately/the 15th.

So after not much thinking at all, I decided that I wanted to move into the second one.

I called her this morning to say that I wanted to take it, and move in on the 15th instead of over the weekend.

I have a new place to go! And it has just about everything I want or need! There's no closet in the bedroom; it's off the living room. But I'll get a dresser and just deal with it. Nothing too bad for sure. But the utilities are included, there's wireless already, and a bigger TV than I had here. The previous roommate wants to get rid of her bed and desk, so I will call her to work that out. Very nice living room, decent kitchen and bath, and it's on the top floor of a secure building.

What a relief.

I'd still like to do the Friday happy hour, but obviously it will depend on how Thursday goes.

This morning, I continued working on packing. On Saturday, I packed my trunk. So the things I packed up today will probably fill up my back and front seats, and there is still more. I will be calling on my good friends at school with cars to come help me out after school.

I can't wait until Friday.

My friend asked me a few days ago if I was counting down the days. At first I thought she meant til the power back on, then I thought she must mean until school is out, but she actually meant the Christmas trip. I had FORGOTTEN about it. Can you believe it?!

But now I'm remembering a lot and getting ready for the whole vacation mode. And I can't wait for that either!

Nine more school days...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Ms M!

Ms M had her birthday celebration at a Belgian beer and wine bar last night. I was so zombiefied on Saturday morning that I thought I'd never make it.

But I took a nap after Saturday school and ate a little, got my laundry done and eventually arrived at the bar at 11pm. It was a lot of fun! I got to catch up with Ms M and meet a bunch of other, really nice teachers, so we all had lots to talk about. I was awake the whole time and enjoyed myself, even if I was out way past my bedtime.

Bloggers, we need another gathering! I just might need a big FAT drink next weekend. In fact, I'll make you come out to Queens. It's right on the express train, don't worry. :) Let's say Friday evening; I know a place with yummy cheap margaritas from 4-7.30pm. Mm, margaritas!

Argh, decisions!

Last night I saw another apartment, it's a small studio in a building in my same neighborhood. It's within my price range, and it's available this weekend, but it's small and I'd be locked in for at least a year. I'm thinking that if I took the basement, it would be big and hopefully temporary; this is a terrible time to look for places. In the next couple months I bet there'll be a lot more options.

I already saw one place this morning (gorgeous and huge but just a little too expensive) and will see at least two places this afternoon.

But here's my list for the studio (S) vs basement studio (B):

both available next weekend
both broker fees
both meh bathrooms
both crappy street parking
B: close to local train
S: fairly near express train

B: impermanent ok
S: one or two year lease

B: huge bedroom and big living room area
S: one bedroom

B: one closet
S: four closets

B: dingy maroon carpet
S: hardwood floors

B: low ceilings!
S: regular ceilings

B: furnished (bed and desk)
S: empty

B: rent is $50 higher but includes all utilities
S: rent is $50 lower but does not include gas or electricity

See my argh-ness?!

I am visiting two shares this afternoon: wish me luck!! I'll keep updating

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Trying to find some bright spots...

First, that Nancy and my other friend N immediately agreed to help me move if needed. Thank you so much!!

Second, that Mr Tech at my school, who I became friendly with earlier this year, came in as I was struggling, all confused, to make Star pick up the wireless connection in the teacher's lounge. A colleague had his laptop up and running, connected, and I put Star as close to the other one, but she just wouldn't grasp that signal. So Mr Tech comes in and ends up getting me an ethernet cord, uncovering the ethernet outlet in the lounge, and directing me in making it work. And it did, beautifully! I was very grateful.

Third, that I FINALLY got onto the college's wireless network. It took five people in three different places, but it all worked out and now I'm sitting here, recharging, working and listening to music.

Fourth, that I'm proud of myself for getting in the assignment that was due last Thursday/Friday, finally just now. I have my book here to get started on the one that's due today...but we'll see. I'm really exhausted right now.

Fifth, that it's Friday tomorrow. Oh lord, I need it. At this point, though I'm looking forward to the Teachers' Poetry Reading and the Farewell party tomorrow night, I think I'm more excited about the potential naptime on the trainride into the city.

Sixth, that Nancy just posted a comment about Legal Aid. I didn't know about them and now that I do, I will be calling them very soon. Especially if my subleaseperson can't/won't explain just what the hell is going on with the lawsuit against the landlord. I don't even know what it involves, if I'm on it, if I'm expected to pay for something lawyer-related at some point, or what.

Seventh, that even though it seems the Pretty Place will not be mine, there is another studio in my neighborhood that I've been waiting to see. If it's not too bad maybe I'll just take it right away.

Eighth, the Free Stuff category of craigslist. I feel hugely relieved about having to move out with zero furniture. Even if it takes time or is not exactly perfect, free is pretty awesome.

Thanks for the good thoughts, friends. I need help staying positive, because otherwise I'll just cry. :)

My breaking point

So I haven't heard anything from the landlord of the pretty place. I kept my phone in my pocket all day, occasionally double checking I didn't miss something. A few minutes ago I left a message for her.

I went home after school and found a 'final notice' postcard from the post office, that I had a parcel. Strange since I didn't get a first notice, but whatever. I drove there (more on that in a sec) and parked. Of course the line took thirty minutes to get through, and I only put in one quarter--twenty minutes' worth--in the meter. Naturally, I got a ticket. Only $35, but still; just keep piling those sticks into the fire set up under my feet. (As in 'at the stake', not 'the fire in my belly that's encouraging me to persevere.)

Got home and there's a notice about a TRIAL from the Asshole Landlord. What nerve!

Also found out that my roommate/subleaseperson may not give me my deposit back, since I didn't give 30 days' notice. Well well well. First, I never signed a lease with her, so I don't know if that would stand legally. Second, and I replied with this, I would only move because of this unacceptable living situation. Third, this would really screw me up. That's a thousand dollars! We're supposed to be getting December rent back, if her lawyer ever gets off his ass to do anything about this unfuckingbelievably stupid situation we're all stuck in.

On the 16th, we're supposed to get our back pay and first check with the new salary. I heard from older teachers that the backpay may not actually arrive for all of us, or something depressing like that. There's another thousand dollars (or so; knowing the kind of luck I have, it'll be like $500).

Today a letter arrived from AmeriCorps about my education award money. It was sent to my college the week of Thanksgiving. Which means it better be in my hot little hands really soon. I called the bursar's office and she said it was there and with the accountants. So I can possibly hope to get it by next Friday, but who knows.

Oh yeah. Remember how stupid and clumsy I can be? And that everything has to be done by CANDLELIGHT? Well, on Monday night I think, I tried to step out of the shower but caught my last two left toes on the metal track thing. Hoo boy, did it hurt. One bled and ever since then, it's hurt more and more to walk on that foot. I'm getting convinced they're broken or otherwise messed up. There are some other toe issues and it really hurts to walk, in general.

It's really affecting my ability to concentrate or even care about my job. And don't think for a second that I've been grading homework or lesson planning. I can't really get food; nothing can be refrigerated and nothing can be microwaved or baked. And fast food can be fairly cheap, but it adds up and I just can't stop bleeding money. I have no more clean socks. And I'm almost out of moisturizer and floss. That means a trip to Target, where I always spend too much. I'll have to put it on a credit card for certain, and that too is just adding up and up and up. Plus, my mom is coming in two weeks. Where will she stay? Will I still be living here? In the fucking DARK? How can I accurately prepare for the stress of December, and teaching in December, and traveling over the holidays, (shopping for presents is totally out of the question now, so I guess I don't have to worry about that)?

This afternoon when I finally got home for "good", I finally broke down and really cried. I just feel so desperate and confused and pissed off and sad and helpless and no one is or even can help. I don't know what to do! I haven't been able to SEE in my own house for over a WEEK!

I try to remind myself--because I've just gotten that far out there--that adversity and challenges only make us all stronger. But then I wail to myself, how does living without heat and with an unreasonable landlord help me develop character? What could I have possibly done to piss off the universe that it feels the need to retaliate to this extreme? There is NO END IN SIGHT of this ugly, stupid, nonsensical situation, and again, I just don't know what to do.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Please Think Good Thoughts for me!

I found a gorgeous, adorable, perfect apartment. The landlord is showing it all evening and making her decision tomorrow.

It's in the neighborhood next to mine, and one of my teacher friends lives nearby. It's a quiet residential neighborhood but also close to the freeway.

The apartment is third floor. New tiles. Several bright windows. Funky attic-type ceilings, but still high. (What a welcome change from the basements I keep seeing, where I can put my palm flat on the ceiling. Sometimes being not-short has disadvantages, I guess.) Nice big bathroom. Kitchen nook and small dining "room" too. Very cute and bright and I loved it immediately. Please cross your fingers, pray, burn incense, talk to the fairies, or whatever thing you do, to ask the Universe to give me this blessing.

This is the only time I've been happy for a solid week. Last night, sitting in the college library unable to get online, I finally realized that I've actually gone through the Stages of Loss, from Psych 101.

Denial: "This can't be happening. It's too ridiculous."
Anger: I was here for a long time. See: Asshole, Landlord is a.
Bargaining: Skipped this one pretty quickly, as there is no bargaining if a person has no reason whatsoever.
Depression: This really hit me last night. I feel helpless and hopeless; there's no end in sight.
Acceptance: Yeah, right. The only thing that will help me "accept" this situation is having the lights turned back on and then getting the hell out.

The landlord of the pretty apartment wants someone to move in this weekend. And that didn't even stop me or faze me. I was like, "I'll take it!" It would make for a tough weekend, but I would call in on Saturday morning and ask school friends to help.

It's so lovely and perfect for me! I should hear back from her tomorrow. I'll keep you posted, as long as you cross your fingers for me! :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Meet Star

This is my pretty new friend. I decided to name her Star, for several reasons. First, she was christened and set-up in a Starbucks. Second, she is small, shiny and pretty. Third, she is a beacon of light in my dark house--figuratively and literally.

This is Star next to her old-school counterpart: two notebooks, side by side. See how tiny and precious she is? Aw.
Welcome to the family!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Omg, guess what?!

No, still no power here. Boo, hiss!

But, I did something to help me cope--I bought a laptop! I am at home right now, in the candlelight, ONLINE! Squee, whee, woo, hoo!

I had actually decided not to get one; it was too much money, not exactly necessary, blah blah blah. But I went in to Staples to see if they had any good deals, and I see this one for $650. It had all the specs I wanted, it's really light, and I said, I'll take it.

I am so excited. Whee!

More later. From my laptop! Whee!!!

Here you go!

(No word yet: A 311 inspector is supposed to be at our house this morning, but I haven't heard anything yet. Keep your fingers crossed that the lights will come on today!)

My song lesson is as follows:
I started by having the class remind us about how NOT to start one's essay: "Hi, my name is..." or "In this essay I will...." all that nonsense. And I yelled out, "Don't EVER DO THAT. EVER EVER NEVER EVER. NEVER!!"

Then I told them that there were five songs they had to listen to and decipher what strategy the song used to pull in the reader and engage them in the topic.
First up is "The Rainbow Connection" by Kermit the Frog. The first line says (so they have to listen carefully to hear the lyrics) "Why are there so many songs about rainbows?" Which is a question.

The second song is "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)" by Simon & Garfunkel. The first line is "I'd rather be a spider than a snail." That is an example of a bold and challenging statement.

Third is "What it feels like for a Girl" by Madonna. It has the talking at the beginning, which means it's an example of using a quotation. On my chart I have the quotation: "You haven't lived until you've lived in London."

Fourth is "Downtown" by Petula Clark. The beginning stanza has a whole bunch of lines describing the scene in the city: the lights are bright, the music of the traffic, the pretty neon signs, etc. It's a Snapshot/Personal experience.

Last is the song from Rent that starts, Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes..." Which is a statistic.

Once we finish the songs, I tell them to practice by rewriting the intro of a recent essay using each of the five strategies. So they end up with five short separate intros. We didn't get to finish, but most of the kids had at least two or three. We'll finish/revisit this later on this week.

Fun lesson, huh? :)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

More Irony

It's now four and I've been here nearly four hours.

For at least two of them, this guy has been in the cubicle next to me. And it is extremely irritating; he keeps punching the keyboard and mega-clicking (like, a whole bunch, really fast) the mouse over and over.

The irony?

This whole time he's been at the site

The "Power" of Positive Thinking

Oh, the irony. Sigh.

On Wednesday night, sometime after I went to bed but before midnight, the landlord shut off the power and heat to our apartment (the third floor of his house).

On Thursday evening, I called 311 and filed a report. They couldn't do anything right then (and we have yet to hear anything at all from them). I was cold and it was dark and I was going stir crazy. My awesome friend N let me sleep at her place, which was blessedly full of both heat and light. Unfortunately, I didn't get much sleep and only brought clothes, so I was ill-prepared for Friday, both mentally and physically.

On Friday evening, my other roommates called the police. The landlord refused to cooperate. !! Let me say that again so you may see just how unreasonable this person is, and I don't mean disagreeable or irritating--though he is both of those as well--HE REFUSED TO COOPERATE WITH POLICE.

Happily, the heat did get turned back on sometime between Thursday and Friday, which is a plus. I think he only did it because he KNOWS that is highly illegal here in New York.

But for fuck's sake, no power for now four days.

There is a bad wire in the main light of my roommate's room. He dealt with it by just not turning that one on. This worked just fine for four days and should be easily fixed.

The landlord claims several things (all of which are clearly absurd): first, that we misused the heater. What? That doesn't even make sense. Because he is a jackass, he doesn't always turn on our radiators and we must use small space heaters in order to feel our extremities. Also, that due to a radiator leak, the second floor wall (or something) has damage--and therefore the third floor shouldn't have power? Even though everything was fine for five days? And don't think for a second that any other part of the house--where he lives--is without power. Nope, just us. Because, all together now, he is an asshole. Next, that we are illegal. Well, we are not. There's a sublease oral agreement between the three of us upstairs. In addition, there is a lawsuit pending (because, as I said, he is an asshole and now doesn't even flinch about coming upstairs--which is also illegal--to verbally harass whoever is here), so nothing at all can be done until that is resolved.

On Friday eighth period, my only prep and what a relief, I started looking on craigslist for apartments in my area. On Saturday afternoon, I spent about five hours looking at places. Saw six or seven. A couple were quite dodgy or tiny, a couple were cute, and almost all of them were basement apartments. I'm no giant, but I'm tall enough to be bothered by low ceilings. However, maybe I won't care, as long as I have my own place with light, heat, tv and internet.

This afternoon I found a whole bunch more listings to call about. Wish me luck!!

This whole situation is so ridiculously stupid, and the landlord is such an unreasonable asshole, that I literally can't wrap my head around it. It just doesn't make sense!


School on Friday went well. I did my song lesson about writing intros, and it was so awesome to see the kids bopping around to Simon & Garfunkel and Petula Clark. When it was their turn to try writing engaging intros, I walked around and yelled out, "Boring!" or "Lame!" or "Oh, come on!" Everyone giggled and tried harder. It was pretty fun and I think the kids made good strides in changing their writing habits. Sort of. We'll have to finish up next week.

Going in on Saturday morning, I was totally exhausted, but somehow we all made it through. Ugh. I motivated myself by remembering it's worth a hundred bucks. Pretty efficient motivation, if you ask me.

That afternoon I got my check for October, and the day before we got our Teacher's Choice checks. At first I was really excited about having money to spend on the Christmas trip, or to help pay off the Prague trip, but now some or all may be going to a new place.

I hate moving. I really don't want to move in December, but the beginning of January will be equally a pain in the ass, since I return from Europe on Dec 31 in the evening. There's too much shit going on to worry about packing and moving and buying furniture or whatever.

And now snow is part of the equation! It snowed two inches during the night. It was very pretty and I got to use my snow shovel for the first time. By the time I got in the car to drive around noon, the roads were pretty clear, but I still drove slowly and carefully. It's supposed to snow more tonight and also on Monday night. Makes me nervous a bit. Wish me luck.

I am at the library of my college. I've been here more than an hour already and oh, how I've missed you, internet! Please don't leave me again.

To that effect, I'm thinking about laptops. Funny enough, remember that post about how I wasn't going to start any reckless spending or buy a laptop? But not having a computer at home is KILLING me. Almost more than the power thing. If I had a good battery on a laptop, I could watch movies and stuff and entertain myself even without lights.

Friday night, I went to two bars with teachers. First in my neighborhood with my friend N and my roommate, then into the city for the teacher-blogger fete. It was fun, though I was exhausted. Let's do it again soon! And Nancy, you better not have a date that night, you social butterfly you. :)

Last night I had to go see a movie. Allowed myself popcorn and a slurpee to make a nice treat. I finally saw Harry Potter. It was pretty good, they did a good job of cramming most of the book into a 2 1/2 hour film. All the subplots got taken out, though, like the Rita Skeeter thing, and Hermione's house-elf movement.

No idea how I'll fill this evening. I already got a lot of sleep, nearly twelve hours in fact. I don't think I can afford to keep going out to movies. Maybe I'll sit in the bookstore. Also need to figure out where or what to eat, since of course all our real food has long since gone bad in the powerless refrigerator.

Okay, I've been goofing off for so long. I should really start on the homework assignment that was due on Friday. Bah.