Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Year

My warm up today asked the students what they would do to make today special, since it's an extra day to the year. Most of them were like, meh, nothing.
As for me, I took a sleep during my last-period prep, and man, I was out. It was a busy day and I felt tired all day. There was a coverage, but it was pretty easy.
This has been a nice week with my kids. We started a media unit, and they seem to be enjoying it. I'm making more of an effort with reading things and they're responding by working. Two boys in the Grey Bunnies are working on turning themselves around, and I am happy and excited to reinforce their positive changes.
Unfortunately, next week all my classes will change. Drastically. With bunches of new students. The wondrous small classes are officially over, and I am dreading the change. I don't want to catch up a bunch of kids who weren't lucky enough to get me as a teacher the first time around. I really don't want to have to rearrange and reorganize my seating charts; this year I've had ample space for the chatty ones to be alone so they can focus and work harder. I don't want to have to reteach routines and expectations and grammar. I really don't want to deal with behavior problems. My kids, annoying though they can be, are a pretty sweet bunch. And since there are/were so few of them, they've been fairly easy to handle, because I know how to prevent problems and teach them what to do and what not to do in my room. So now I'm really scared that all my hard work is going out the window.
As is my habit, I am pretending it won't happen, in a vain attempt to ignore the dread I feel.
Dammit. My classroom has been my haven this year, the only positive thing I could rely on and count on and feel good about. Please think good thoughts for me, that the 'old' kids will help keep the new ones in line, and that I will be able to shape the classes well.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Do I need to revoke my 'teacher blogger' status now? I haven't written much about school, but hey, this was a blog before teaching, it will stay one after, and at least I'm putting stuff up, even if it's just pictures. Right?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

vacation travel

I moved to New York in June 2004. That August, my mom came to visit. That Christmas, 2004, she visited again. That February, I returned home to Seattle to visit. That April, two friends from school and I went to Las Vegas. In the summer of 2005 , I went to Seattle and drove back to New York. The next Christmas, my mom and I went to Barcelona and Paris. February 2006 was Prague. April, New Orleans. Summer, Seattle with Boyfriend. Another Christmas, Amsterdam. In 2007, February was London and Paris with Boyfriend. April break, back to Seattle. The summer, Australia! Christmas, Seattle again.

And now, 2008 February=nowhere. :(

I have been extremely lucky to have traveled so much in the last few years. Of course, it's one of my priorities, and I had a per-session job those years, so I did have the money for it. This year, my homework center was cut because of budget (even before the big city cuts), so I don't have extra money. (The Christmas trip was paid for with a voucher we got last February, so that didn't really cost much.) It's pretty depressing to be forced out of the habit. I miss my passport!

I have friends in town but they're not here, so I'm alone. I suppose I can't say I've never had this much free time alone, because there were plenty of empty days during the summers, but still, it's not exactly fun and exciting. It is all too easy for me to indulge my slothful hermit tendencies.

Speaking of indulgence, I just took a look at lenses for my film camera. There are 50mm lenses and 100-300mmlenses for under $80!!!....I'm so tempted, but I just can't let myself buy anything like that. At least, not yet. Sigh.

Monday, February 18, 2008

stupid and random

So...apparently this is Monday? We have no school this week, so I wouldn't know.

It's not even 10.30 and I can hardly keep my eyes open. And I didn't get up until ten this morning. Why the hell am I so tired already?

I went to two medical places today, which means I had a lot of down time. I read a book but didn't work on photos at all.

I had two phone interviews today, and one last Friday. Cross your fingers for me.

I think I forgot to have dinner, so I had some ice cream.

Tomorrow I have to get up to move my car and will make myself go somewhere interesting to take photos. As long as I won't have to walk much.

I miss my boyfriend. a lot.

this post should self destruct in three seconds.



Sunday, February 17, 2008

Moving Forward, I Hope

Film, Steps

So I love taking pictures. Have since I got my first cheap 35mm in middle school. (Before that I had a bright yellow Kodak 110 camera--remember those?!) I took random pictures of our cat, or of my bedroom wall (at one age-covered in kitties and puppies and flowers; at a later age-covered in Mariners), because I couldn't think of anything else. When I took my first Europe trip, I thought it was extravagant that I took three and a half rolls of film in three weeks. (Isn't that hilarious? Now I'll take that many digital photos in a single day. Or of a single sunset.)
I also took 34 rolls of film during the ten months of AmeriCorps. Clearly, I've gotten a little more obsessed as I've gotten older.

Just over a year ago, I bought a pro account on flickr. Four months later I began a daily photo project. Two months after that I bought a much nicer camera. There are a lot of moments that I wish I could capture on camera, but am too shy or don't have the right equipment. Other times I see a scene that I know that someone else, more artistic and creative than I, could make incredible, but I can't see it, so I take a mediocre shot.

In the past year I do think I have noticeably improved as a photographer. I don't know any technical things, however, and I also think that is noticeable. Additionally, I don't have photoshop. Because of all that, all of my photography basically pales in comparison to most people on flickr.

Worse, lately I've been completely uninspired and uncreative. Perhaps being sick and fatigued played a role in that, but really, it's clearly a mental state. I'm so uncreative I didn't even know how to play with barbies, and I name stuffed animals after themselves.

Sometime last year I began looking at photography classes, and even posted about it. But around the new year, when I let myself evaluate my priorities and interests, I decided to work on photography and commit to taking a class.

So I did! Yesterday was the first meeting!

I wrote that I would commit an hour a day to working on photography, but already I've been laying around home all day long, doing nothing at all, let alone practicing with pictures. Partly because it's so LAME and BORING and STUPID to keep taking so many stupid pictures in my own apartment. And also it's cold outside, and also ALSO because I hurt my foot and ankle trying to do picture stuff yesterday, because I am an IDIOT.


Friday, February 15, 2008

What does it say about me that...

--While reading this fun, grammar-related post(check out the graph!), followed a link to this article(word nerdy stuff), I saved it in my favorites, under "Fun Reading"?

--When Jon Stewart did his opening bit and then cried out, "The writers are back!" and the audience burst into thunderous applause, I actually teared up?

--When I tried to play Wednesday's episode of American Idol but it was stupid Big Brother instead, I was rather upset?

--Last night when I should have worked on cleaning and tidying, and gone to bed at a decent hour, I stayed up til 12.30 watching tv and doing nothing?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hey, Asshole

If you keep leaving asshole comments, I will keep deleting you.
Eff you, and go AWAY.

The rest of you lovelies, I'm sorry you had to see this. I like all of you, I promise.

Monday, February 11, 2008

hey, guess what?

I worked out yesterday! I hadn't for over two weeks, because this nasty coughy cold thing kicked my butt and I didn't want to make it worse by increased breathing (which has brought on the phlegmy cough). I didn't gain any weight or anything; I probably lost a teeny bit with all the coughing and not eating much. I was doing so well about getting into a routine, for nearly a month, before I had to stop. Then being inactive for so long, I worried about being unable to do much, but I completed everything just fine. And now today my arms and bum are sore! Yay!

And apparently I'm also trying to make up for lost 'time' by posting three times right in a row. Sorry, I'll give you a break now. :D


Exhibit A:
I got a voice mail last week from a guy from a bank, saying we'd met at school sometime in the last year. I called him back, left a message, the next day he called me back, then got another call and called back like ten minutes later. And finally I said hello to him and said that I didn't remember him. It really took about five full minutes of this 'conversation' for me to remember the meeting he was talking about--it was my second year of teaching! This is my fourth, which means that he 'was just following up on the questionnaire' I filled out, it took two or three YEARS!

He wanted me to go to another meeting so he could tell me about some weird programs or something, and he would be 'in the area' the next day. I asked, "In the area or in the school?" Then he claimed he'd be at the school, around 3 or 4, meeting with the parent coordinator. I replied that school's over by three and I could try to stop by the room.

On Friday, I got an eighth period coverage and completely forgot. He called me a little after three, saying he was at school. I said, oh sorry, I forgot and I already left, I'm on the freeway. He said something about how he was there to meet with me, implying bad on me for promising to go and then not. But I ignored that because A)that's a lie, and B)you called me TWO FREAKING YEARS late, buddy. You lost any and all right to be respected as a professional. Good luck.

Exhibit B:
This morning a student walked in twenty minutes late. I sent her right back out to get a late pass. She returns five minutes later with no pass, saying something about signing a paper. I testily replied she needed to bring something back with her, so I sent her back to get an actual pass. Two minutes later, one of the security guards shows up at my door with the student. The guard tells me (with just enough attitude to let me know she thinks I'm being totally unreasonable) that "we're not doing late passes anymore." Per the principal. The guard claims the late students sign something and they update the attendance and "then come right up to class."

Wehhell. FIRST of all, I'm just doing one of my jobs, trying to keep my students accountable for their actions. I certainly don't need to be told off by a security guard about me trying to keep the school, you know, secure.

Second, this student didn't do a damn thing until I sent her to get something. Which means that she was able to come up to class the first time with no one stopping her to question her or give her a pass. This is a problem, no? So what happens when teachers don't send a kid back to get a pass? Nothing, that's what, the kid doesn't show up on the attendance for the day. And the principal keeps threatening us, the teachers, for the discrepancies in attendance.

Then, THIRD, I had a chance to ask my department AP about this later in the day. She said that her students (the next grade) had late passes that day. Ohhoho! Isn't that interesting! I asked if she could ask the principal about that, for some clarification, because obviously us teachers have not ever been told anything at all about passes or a lack of them (I just send kids because it's the right thing to do), and now apparently security guards are either making things up or upholding different rules and expectations. Either way something needs to be done.

This is just ONE reason our school is ridiculous.

Oh, and this guard's snippity attitude might be related to Exhibit C, which actually happened a month or two ago. It was in the middle or late part of the day, class is going on, the students are silent as I'm teaching or they're reading or whatever. And there's a group of people RIGHT outside my door, four guards and a parent or someone, talking very loudly. Practically shouting, and in an empty hallway, and again, right outside my door. In the middle of class. It was disruptive! So I opened the door and said quietly and kind of shyly, "Um, excuse me, it's kind of loud out here, and we're quiet in here, would you mind keeping it down?" Feeling kind of silly, because truly, this shouldn't even be happening.

None of them even apologized, this one kind of just stared at me as if *I* were the rude one (!!), and they moved away. Really? Attitude? I don't think I'm in the wrong to politely ask for a quiet environment so we can teach and learn!

My goodness, people, what is this school coming to, I ask you?

Advertising Thumbs Up

I recently realized that Apple deserves major advertising kudos--they always use fantastic, catchy music, and they never rely on sex appeal or other objectification. Good job! Now if only I could afford some of their products....

I'm not sure what product it's for (tv maybe?), but that commercial with the Gingerbread Man on the phone? And he's like, Oh, I look so tasty! Then he takes a big bite--crrrunch--, he cries, OUCH! and then, YUMMY! Cracks me up every time.

On the flip side [which reminds me of one time I used that expression in class, and the kids turned their papers over to the other side! ha! ack!], I want to MAIM and KILL the Geico and Campbell's advertising teams. Seriously, shut the #%@^ up!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Life Travel List

According to Smithsonian's January 2008 issue, there are twenty-eight places to see before you die. "Whether you visit only a couple of these destinations or all 28, your life will be enriched by the experience."

Portals into the Past:
--Mesa Verde (Colorado)
--Pompeii (near Naples, Italy)
--Tikal (Guatemala)
--Petra (Jordan)

Feats of Engineering:
--Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
--Taj Mahal (Agra, India)
--Easter Island (way west of Chile)
--The Great Wall (China)

A Matter of Timing (to be seen at certain times of year):
--Aurora Borealis (Alaska/Yukon)
--Serengeti (Tanzania and Kenya)
--Iguazu Falls (Brazil)
--Macchu Picchu (Peru)

Triumphs of Vision:
--Musee du Louvre (Paris, France)
--Zen Garden of Kyoto (Japan)
--Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy)
--Fallingwater (Pennsylvania)

Scale New Heights:
--Yangtze River (China)
--Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
--Grand Canyon (Arizona)

In the Presence of Gods:
--Pagan (Burma/Myanmar)
--Parthenon (Athens, Greece)
--Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
--Ephesus (Turkey)

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow:
--Venice (Italy)
--Amazon Rain Forest (in parts of eight South American countries!)
--Great Barrier Reef (east of Australia)
--Galapagos Islands (west of Ecuador)

I've seen the Louvre, the Uffizi, Venice, the Parthenon, and the Great Barrier Reef. If I follow through with China this summer, I'll see the Great Wall (and I'm not sure about the Yangtze, I'll have to check the sample itinerary). Seeing those places has certainly impacted me--they are all beautiful, stunning, inspirational in their own ways.

In the last year or so, reading National Geographic Adventure, South America is definitely on my list. There are so many treasures, both natural and historical, and it's kind of overwhelming. And it seems expensive, since those are the kind of experience you need a guide to make the best. I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford it, but I would certainly like to make it to one South American country in the next couple years. (I think Peru seems like a good start.) (Our school cut all after-school programs last month; we've had our own budget issues even before the city-wide cuts. This means I have no more extra income, so I'll have to get used to continuing not traveling.)

I think Yellowstone is a treasure that everyone should experience. I've never been to Yosemite or Glacier National Parks; I hear those are gorgeous, amazing places (and they're on my own list). The Australian Outback is an incredibly unique and beautiful, though harsh. It's a place and lifestyle unlike any other. Any or all of those destinations should definitely be on a list like this one.

So what do you think? How many have you visited? How many are on your own "list"? Anything you think should be added?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Smithsonian Blew My Mind Today

Apparently orcas are dolphins, not whales!

Is this common knowledge? How did I not know this?

I had to share with the Herd this afternoon, and at least one smartypants kid shouted out, "I knew that!" (No really, he's really smart. I'm not surprised he knew something like that.)

Later, when the kids were practicing writing biographies, I was circling and checking, you know, as I am wont to do. This little boy (and I do mean little, he's my height when I'm sitting down!), who's below level but tries so hard, had written a paragraph with some things out of order. And so my reaction before I vocalize anything was, "Oh oh oh!" or somesuch. (I tend to be a bit overdramatic with these things. You're not surprised, are you?) And he echoed me quietly, "Oh oh oh." The girl across the desk giggled and I suppressed my own to give him a Look. He goes, "oh, my bad." Hee! Adorable.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

more randomosity from my brain

  • I hate the way Oprah cuts to commercials, all jarringly and way too often.

  • I've realized that I am way too susceptible to suggestion. When watching Top Model, I feel fat. When watching What Not to Wear, I fix my closet. When watching "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?" on Oprah, I pick up tidbits on my floor.

  • And we really need to stop some of this food advertising. Did I tell you guys about the kid who tried to insist that PopTarts were healthy breakfast food because they have fruit in them?! I want to tell them, if you take a piece of poo and roll it in oats, does it become healthy food? Sheesh.

  • The other night I couldn't sleep, so the next evening I took one of my old sleeping pills. But I stayed up too long and watched American Idol. I don't actually remember it, but I do remember asking myself if it was Twin Audition Day on the show, because everyone had a little carbon copy in front of them. Also there were six judges of various size and there was a second tv screen coming out of the real screen. It was really freaking trippy, man.

  • Last night on American Idol (I'll watch audition shows of anything), when Simon said in his precious accent, "I'm going to steal your dog," I kind of loved him.

  • Stephen Colbert might be replacing Jon Stewart as my tv husband.

  • Where do regular people store their balance balls? Mine used to be trapped in the closet (ha!) but right now it's on top of an upside down chair. Is there a normal resting place that I just don't know about?

  • Sourdough bread just can't be beat.

  • I look through a camera viewfinder with my left eye. I realized a couple weeks ago that I'm probably the only one. Am I a freak? Do you all look with your right eye?

  • Hm, I think need more chocolate in my kitchen.

  • The other day I saw something that was up in April 2008. I thought to myself, oh, that's not til next year! Something like half an hour later, I realized that it *is* 2008. Ten minutes ago I remembered that it's already the second *month* of 2008!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Good news!

--My college friends S and B just got engaged! Woo!!!

--Yesterday my friend N showed up out of the blue! She just walked in to the teacher's room. Everyone was so surprised and happy to see her. She's the one who moved to New Orleans and began teaching not just a new grade level but also a new subject. I miss her and my other friend N too, who's in Texas.

--Boyfriend is leaving for ten days in Italy in just over a week! I'm so excited for him, and jealous too. :)

--My high school friend S and her husband are coming to visit New York (and me!) in less than two weeks! I haven't seen them in over a year and a half and can't wait to show them my cute apartment, and the city.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

things that go through my brain

Whenever I go to the park, as I did this afternoon, I think about the Sims. And Field of Dreams.
If you build it, they will come.

Did you ever play SimCity (thanks, BF)? I'm talking about the early 90s version, without the internet or individual characters, where you got to choose your geographic area and then could build chunks of roads, buildings, housing tracts, malls, etc. You would know you were successful because stoplights would appear on the roads and flea-sized cars would run around the highways and buildings. Then you got to build more parts of your city until the cars slowed and disappeared.

The park is interesting to me. The city makes no money to provide a place for people to jog, for children to play, for horseriders to explore (where do people store horses in New York City?!), for lovers, friends and families to roam and stroll together, for people like me to get outside just because. But on days like this, there are always plenty of people, of all ages, out and about, enjoying the space and place, breathing outdoor air. Do these people come to the park every weekend? Every day even? Only once in a while? What brought the elderly woman in a fur coat and hat to the park road, perched on her portable chair cane in the sunshine?

Will parks ever go out of style? More and more people spend more and more hours inside, with television and computers and video games, so do the officials want to cut down on park space? What about the money thing--how much are green areas threatened by greed? Many parks must be in prime real estate and would make some companies billions if transferred to retail or residences. Who's protecting the interest of the "eco freaks," as one magazine letter put it? With the ever increasing crowding in cities, will there ever come a day that natural trees go the way of the dodo? Does that even make sense? Is it good for children to grow up in urban locations with only occasional visits to the park, as opposed to having backyards and forests freely available?

Also, why does the back staircase sometimes smell exactly like a horse stable?