Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Lasts

This has been my last week of living alone

of living in this cute apartment

of residing in this borough

of always sleeping alone

of spending most of my time alone

of taking up the whole bed with my self along with my assorted pillows and stuffed friends (shut up!)

of leaving the bathroom door open

of frittering away evenings on the computer with the tv on nearby

of leaving my stuff wherever I want

of letting the recycling and dishes pile up if I want

of having a long commute

of being part of a long-distance relationship

Friday, August 29, 2008

misfolded proteins

I can feel it in my eyes. In the back of my neck. In my shoulders, down my arms. In the lack of strength in my hands, in the weakness of my legs, in the dullness of my thoughts. In the gentle crossing of my eyes.

I didn't know that exhaustion could build like this. I think I should really cry, it would probably be healthy, catharsis and such, but honestly, I think I'm too tired to make the effort to produce tears.

Fittingly, I listened to RadioLab's sleep episode on the way home. It didn't help, I'll tell you that. Especially the shrieking night-terrors and the fussy toddler. Sheesh.

It's Friday and the tough part of my week is just beginning!

I did get my first hug of the school year today. That will be my happy thought over the next couple days. This I hope to focus more on the students who are sweet and do the right thing consistently.

But before I can do that, I have to move in two days. Oh, and plan for two subjects. Oh, and SLEEP.

It's 9.45. I should have been in bed an hour ago.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

kids these days

I was in my classroom with rounds of students today. With the returning students/hormonal attitudes, I had to revert to my regular teacher self, with a few modifications of course. It has been really interesting to learn about how these schools think disruptions and difficult students should be dealt with (quietly etc to preserve dignity). It's really made me think about what I do and have done, what has and hasn't worked and why. I am doing my best to adhere to their high standards. I like them, have already seen it in action and seen that it's useful and more effective.

That said, there is plenty that is the same. Namely, me. :)

All this charter school stuff has had me questioning myself, my methods, my so-called successes, and of course all my massive teaching failures. It had me thinking that I didn't have effective management, that I wouldn't know how to deal with kids 'correctly' within this framework, that I wouldn't be kind enough, all sorts of things.

In the last week or so, I've been trying to reassure myself that actually, my management is pretty good. I had lots of compliments from admin and colleagues, and best of all, lots of kids mentioned it in their end of year surveys, "Ms don't play!" "You better work in Ms's class" and such. (Which reminds me, I never wrote a summary of this year's. they're great, especially the disparities in response to the question asking their opinion of the music that I played. In fact, I'm not positive where those papers are right now....I suppose I'll come across them this weekend when finishing packing.) Anyway, today I felt like I was right at 'home' again, in a way, being a teacher in front of kids, even though the faces, the names, the ages, the classroom, the school, the borough were different, it was also pretty much the same.

Today is...Thursday? Which means one, two, three, four days left in my apartment. And plenty left to pack. And planning to finish--I haven't worked on it at all this week, my brain is just too fried.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When Bad Sleep Happens to Good People

Mind wanders

Heart pounds

Arms tingle

Eyes burn

Head aches

Legs are exhausted

Can't get comfortable

Want to cry

So tired

Shoulder goes numb

Start mentally lesson planning

Curse self

Shut up, brain!

Want to cry

Rinse, and repeat. For hours on end.

Caution: May result in haggard appearance, sluggish movement, and decreased mental acuity.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I have probably two posts I want to write...but I'm tired and more than a little braindead.

let me see if I can at least find a pretty picture to make this seem only slightly less lame....

Aha, here we go--have a margarita!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mollusks don't oscillate

I've been trying to be a better podcast listener. I can't be a twenty-something New Yorker (ack) without listening to NPR and shit.

Three years ago, I was driving along the dull Midwestern stretch of I-70. I was bored with my CDs (remember Discmen? good times) and mixtapes (better times), so I fiddled with the radio. Tolerated a few minutes of country music. Flipped right past Christian stuff. The only other thing on was some kind of talk show. Something about America. Except just one person talking, and there was music. The speaker kept pausing and I kept thinking the story was over. Except, of course, it wasn't. I think the story was something about the woman's father getting old, or the parents were splitting up, or something along those lines. Eventually it ended and presumably I found something else to help pass the corn-field time.

Months and months later, I told my new boyfriend about it. He said, "Yeah, that's This American Life. It's a podcast and it's really good, you should listen to it." I rolled my eyes. These kids and their iPods and their fancy podcasts. Blah blah blah.

Fast forward a year or so and I got my very own (free, hand-me-down) iPod. It totally changed my life. But I still refused to investigate podcasts. Too complicated or something? No real reason.

Another year or so further on, when I got my bigger, newer, much shinier iPod, with so much empty space, I finally broke down and looked at the whole podcast thing. I subscribed to This American Life, but rarely listened to it, since I almost always prefer music (especially while reading on the subway, when I can't hear a damn thing on a podcast anyway).

The last few weeks I've been driving to school training, each trip lasting between 30-45 minutes. I used the time to start catching up on the last six months' worth of This American Life. I made the unfortunate mistake of listening to The Audacity of Government on the way to school one day, boiling my blood before going in to Save The Children at training. I loathe this administration and everything it stands for. But that's another post, one I don't need to write. Ahem. Shows from this podcast have made me laugh, cry, rage, and think. (The title refers to a great speech by Malcolm Gladwell taken from The Moth, on a show from the spring that I just heard recently.) I've whittled the list of shows down to 'just' eight one-hour episodes.

And so, anticipating way too much time on my hands and despair at no more podcasts, last week I finally took the BF's advice and also subscribed to Radio Lab, The Moth, and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I downloaded six or seven of their most recent shows and have been slowly learning new formats and enjoying new things to think and laugh about. The first Radio Lab I listened to was about self and the soul, and it was completely fascinating. Mirrors, monkeys, neurons--good stuff. The first Wait, Wait was a best-of compilation featuring Dave Barry, Craig Ferguson, and a couple others I don't remember. Very funny indeed. Surprisingly, I didn't even mind looking like a total lunatic, standing alone and giggling at nothing in public. I have no shame, but I do have lots of time to kill.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

hey there

Been at school for a third week of preparing to begin the year. Only a few days until students arrive. Ye gods, help me be strong. Help me get some work done for both of my subjects. I've got about two weeks for one subject, and only vagueness for the other. Oy, the anxiety.

Speaking of anxiety, moving sucks. I know. You're welcome for the news flash. I moved in to this lovely studio nearly 2 1/2 years ago with zero furniture and was a total basketcase. Now I've got like fifteen times as much stuff, and I've got to move IN A WEEK (gotta love the New York Asshole Landlord). Shit.

I've got some things packed. Books, coats, fancy dresses, linens. Eight boxes are filled, waiting for the rest of their kin to join their friendly pile in the corner. Not to mention the things that can't be packed that still have to move--bed, desk, tv, shelf, microwave cart. There's no plausible way I can move it myself or even with BF's help. (Possible, sure. With infinite time, strength, and patience. Plausible? The weekend before school really starts? Pshaw. Don't make me laugh. I might hurt you with hysterical flailing.) So I have to hire movers, which will cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Worth it, yes. I can actually afford it at the moment, which is a small miracle. But still, how will I get everything ready in time? How will I manage to fork over that scary number of dollars?

Speaking of moving, I've got TEN BOXES of school crap going back to my school. Which I will have to get from my car on the street, into the school, up five looooong flights of stairs. Ugh.

I wish I was funnier, more interesting, more personable for anyone who might hazard a read now and then. Sorry. Here's a very funny link that you teachers out there will probably adore way too much. Thanks to N for the link that I stole. Oh, and here are some incredible Olympics photos.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

it had been too long

since I last took pictures lying in the sunshiney grass

Like, totally.

So yesterday I did something I promised I would never, ever do.


I joined Facebook.

Then I proceeded to spend several hours on it. First I gawked at all the members of my graduating class, shocked at the number of babies on people's profile pics. I know it's been eleven years, but jeez. Naturally, my next serious task was finding a profile photo to look good and impressive and not stupid. I wouldn't want those people I don't know anymore to think I'm a loser from a thumbnail! Considering that I have over one thousand self-portraits on my flickr page and thousands more on my hard drive, I have very few where you can clearly see my face and where I look normal and/or sane.

Then I stalked random people from my past, people that I'm not in contact anymore. (I didn't add them.) I found some fun people that I knew fifteen years ago or more and added them. People from blogs, flickr friends, old friends added.

I hardly even know how the thing works. I feel silly and old. And also a little lame, because it could clearly become another obsession, and together with flickr, how on earth will I ever do anything productive? :)

And of course I want to collect more people. Email me your info--let's be friends!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Things I Love

1. These guys. Drool.

2. Jezebel, now, obviously.

3. When a song comes on my iPod with a strong sassy beat that matches my walking tempo, and I can strut along to it. Recently it was The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson. I once actually made a mix CD of songs like this. Good times.

4. Receiving basic supplies from my school instead of buying them. SWEET!!!

5. The thought of having a textbook (hello lesson plans, activities, and materials!) and explicit curriculum for one of the subjects I'm teaching. DOUBLE SWEET!

6. My blue walls. I shall miss them. :(

7. Overseas traveling. It's been too long. With the higher salary, and once I'm more sane, I can actually afford to break out the old passport again!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Well, apparently things really are stressing me out--yesterday I teared up during training at the sheer overwhelmingness of it all. I think deep down I am really not sure if I can do this--or at least do this well. That I shouldn't be teaching at all. Add that to a week and a half of sitting and stewing, not knowing much for sure about exactly what the coming year will actually entail--that's a good making for some stress hormones.

Also, I am so tired. More so every day. I've been going to bed at 10.15-10.30 and it's just not enough.

And more also, my knees suck. Patellar tendonitis and bursitis on both sides. Fun times!

You really can't blame me for a few tears now, can you?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Week Two Begins!

When I finally got home on Friday night, I felt a huge sense of exhausted relief--ooh, it's over! time to relax, it's done!

Then I remembered, nope, summer vacation is all over, it's work work work for the next ten months.

I quite literally spent all day Saturday in bed, resting my knees while watching the Olympics, and taking two naps. While I freely admit I am a lazy git, even that was extreme for me. But I didn't care one whit. I'd hardly slept that week, my knees weren't working properly--clearly, I needed the rest. And it felt fabulous. I'm going to have to take relaxation time seriously from now on--with the increased pressure and workload at the new job, I shall become an aggressive rester! Ha!

This morning, while I wasn't happy to be up at 6.30 once again, went smoothly. There was no traffic, I found the school easily, and it hardly took any time at all. I felt awake and alert all day (which was most certainly not the case last week!), and the training itself was useful and interesting. We got some concrete tools and tips to stay organized and keep priorities in clear view. I definitely struggle with the self-discipline to complete tasks in a timely manner. That will be one of my goals this year--really focusing on keeping on top of administrative things like making phone calls and planning on a regular and rigorous schedule.

We've been getting introduced to the electronic aids over the last week. Talk about overwhelming--so much stuff! Different programs and tools to use for all kinds of things. Coming from a system where ALL of these things have been done by hand--by ME--it's a wonderment, it's a relief. I really think it will make my responsibilities faster and more efficient to complete, which should give me more time to concentrate on actually, you know, teaching. (Remember, for you civilians out there, teaching is the last thing on a teacher's to-do list!)

Most excitingly, we're finally getting into some specifics this week. Truly, it's a relief to get some answers and most importantly, to know we're getting solid support. That is such a huge deal to me, I'm really looking forward to having a true collaborative team and leader. To know that I'm not alone in feeling overwhelmed, to know that I don't have to create lessons and units in isolation, to know that, holy shit!, I will have materials at my disposal!, to know that other people will actively help me improve my teaching and my self-discipline.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I made a note this week to Stay Positive

Therefore, I shall not complain about the following:

--My sensitive nose equates perfume with headache.

--Smoke (whether fresh or stale on a person) also equals instant headache.

--There were too many bad smells this week, which meant I spent much of it with an unhappy head.

--I probably didn't eat enough real food this week. :(

--A lot of the training sessions devolved into competitions and bragging.

--I'm still anxious and overwhelmed about being unprepared for the school year, despite these weeks of training.

--My knees have completely rebelled on me. For the last two days, they've been swollen, achy and weak. Standing and walking are not happy times here. (Very slight improvement since yesterday, though).

(Hi, this is the BF hijacking this blog post. J is awesome and shouldn't complain about anything except the fact that everyone else is so much less awesome by comparison.)

I'm leaving that in because it is just too cute. I'm a lucky one. :)

I started this post in my head last week but only began the post this morning. Now that it's almost evening, I actually have some positive things to add!! Yay!

--It is fun watching the Olympics! Yesterday I found myself sucked into the women's indoor volleyball game. It was so action-packed and the teams were so high-energy--they hugged and high-fived after every point. Later the beach volleyball came on and what a contrast--only two people on the court, wearing bikinis! I realized that they must have to wear pretty tight suits to make sure everything stays in place. Skidding around in sand, and no knee pads--those chickies are tough! I watched the swimming yesterday too, and this morning. V. excited to go watch the gymnastics that was on last night, too.

--OMG, WE FOUND AN APARTMENT TODAY! More specifically, we GOT an apartment today (we'd found several good ones in the last couple months but hadn't actually gotten one). I'd been really stressed about it, with the timing and location stuff. This place is a nice size, on a quiet block, near my new school and several trains. So as of September first, we will be a Brooklyn couple! Exciting!

Friday, August 08, 2008


This evening I realized anew that I am quite simply the stupidest person I know.

Moments of triumph are fleeting, but this, like all my embarrassments, will surely become etched crystal-clearly in my mind.


I apologize for the overdramatics; I've been reading Dorothy Parker and her elegant style crept up on me (er, an attempt at such; I am clearly none so articulate).

More specifically, a journey last night turned into another Herculean Task (I think this makes five or six since I've been in New York; the first was the day I actually moved here), when it should have been simple and straightforward. It was completely my fault for moronically not reading OR thinking, several times in a row. This is only the most recent example of this phenomenon, too. I need to get it together.

This week of education training did indeed make me feel lonely, inadequate and a failure, but that's not really anything new and that wasn't what this referenced.

Thank you for the very kind words, friends, and I apologize again for my tendency toward hyperbole. Carry on.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Now through three days of training, and holy CRAP is my brain full.

This year is gonna be a LOT of work.

This school, this group, is pretty impressive--they are working hard to impact thousands of kids. They have had a lot of success, but they don't think they're done. When there's a setback, they reflect and make changes--they don't believe that they're the end-all, be-all to education. They are more than happy to look at and borrow best practices from other people and other schools.
I may be too far in the bubble, but I've been surprised at how little eduspeak we've been hearing, too. For some reason, the word I've been hearing a lot is caveat. Like, eight times a day. Weird.

Anyway, so the expectations and standards are very high. The thing is, they seem to want to help us all achieve them--there is lots of time and effort and resources for professional development, and the admin/founders want to push the teachers to get better, to get clearer, to ensure the kids are actually learning what they're supposed to.

It's been long days, lots of sitting and lots of PowerPoint. There are a ton of young teachers here, I'm definitely one of the older folks around! Varying levels of experience, but generally three or fewer years. Yet I feel like I'm the only one overwhelmed. Maybe I'm just thinking too hard? I'm getting impatient for the specifics, which is the hardest part to deal with, to just shut up and get through it. We've got three or four more weeks, and there is A LOT--no, really, A LOT--that will need to get done. Way more work than I've ever done before. I hope that I have a knowledgeable team behind me and along with me.

I can't really be very specific here, and I'm also just really tired, so I suppose that's it for now. Two more days this week, and I will try to push myself to be more positive (I actually wrote that on my notes this afternoon) and also to be more social. That's one of the hardest parts of this whole thing. I'm such a boring old lady. :)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Some pretty nature pictures to usher you into the weekend :)

This is my last weekend before I become a teacher again.

Also, holy crap! How is it August already?!
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