Tuesday, June 28, 2011

you did it!!!

Congratulations, NYC friends!

You made it through another year--way to go!! Happy summer!

Monday, June 20, 2011

blasted from the past

Last week, I spent some time going through my three boxes of film photos, just to see what's there and find some fun ones to scan. (See, I'm in the middle of two other projects, so I needed to find another one. :D)

I saw all kinds of little things I'd forgotten about. Like the time my little brother and I were playing around and he put his big stuffed ninja turtle in his shirt so that it looked like his own legs were green and furry. Or this cool game I had that was sort of like aimed pinball and you made designs. In shots of my old bedroom I was horrified at how messy I was (but...not too surprised), and then noticed the old plastic Rainbow Brite and Care Bears bowls we had. I snapped shots showing the change from my kid room walls (cute kittens and puppies) to teenage walls (my favorite baseball stars, inspirational quotes). One of my favorite shots of my dad, brother, best friend and me, at our beach.

Pictures from my high school graduation with my braces and semi-friends. Pictures from my college graduation with my younger siblings, who have now graduated from high school and college themselves. My kid cousins, who are now successful grown-ups, who I got to know better for a minute while in Seattle earlier this year. A roll of photos taken from my car as I drove down the Oregon and California coast.

Then the next day, I accidentally clicked on a former friend's folder in my email. I ended up reading through all of our exchanges--over four years' worth. This is the friend who dropped me suddenly my second year in NYC. In the pictures I'd gone through, there were a ton of the two of us. We'd sit in my car and laugh about who knows what, and take stupid photos of ourselves. (This is of course from the 35mm days, so most of them are blurry and half our faces are cut off. In a lot of them we look alike, which we always joked about. Something about having glasses and dark hair.) We'd had a lot of fun for a few years and the emails proved that we were actually friends. I still kind of want to know what on earth happened. But I won't.

(Do you keep old correspondence? I have a hard time getting rid of actual things, so it's not surprising that I semi-hoard electronic things. It's an amazing way to get a real glimpse of past iterations of life. Do you count a difference between actual letters and emails?)

Anyway, the first part of that week left me really disoriented for a day or so--the past was swirling around my head and it came back to life briefly.

I wonder where I'll be ten years from now, looking back on this year--my first year of *not* teaching, our first year of marriage. What kinds of progress or change will I have made that I look back on my 31 year old self and shake my head and say, wow, how little she knew! What memories will I have? What moments, big and little, will stick out?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Postcard Project!

Over the past eleven years, I have been collecting postcards. Not just ones that people sent me, but I would always buy a few whenever I traveled somewhere. I'd do some of the sights or of a city, and I would usually buy some of my favorite artworks at museums.

Some postcards ended up in scrapbooks, as a way to represent a lovely place that I couldn't capture myself. Unfortunately, only a few of my trips have been scrapbooked, so most of them were tossed into a drawer when I returned home from a trip. But even a few years ago I knew I wanted to do something with them, to display them somehow. I just couldn't figure out how, without glueing or taping them together. Then what if I had to move? Or what if I wanted to change something?

Enter Photojojo's fotoclips! When I first saw them last year or thereabouts, I knew they would help me do something about all those postcards! But I never got around to ordering them for myself. I strongly hinted to the husband once or twice that I really wanted some, and this month, he finally remembered to order them.

Finally time to do something with all those pretty pictures! First I had to sort through my craft drawers and find all the postcards. Then I organized them into piles by location, and counted them. Finally, I sorted them by orientation (far more landscape than portrait, in case you're interested).

The total? Over three hundred!

Last weekend, we decided to make some 'panels' and went about attaching the postcards together, not in an organized or planned way. Tonight we put them up on the wall of our bedroom!

Then I made two long gallery strips of the museum postcards, for our living room:

I am super excited to get some of these great things out for display, and to finally decorate our walls a bit!

There are tons more postcards, and more empty walls in the living room and kitchen...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

no regrets

Last week I saw this article about the top 5 regrets people had on their deathbed. Interesting food for thought.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I don't think I've ever had this regret. I've done some amazing things on my own volition, and while there are more things I wish I had done, I'm pretty happy with how I've directed my life and where it's taken me. Planning for the future has never been something I could do; instead things come into my life in random ways and affect decisions and I end up somewhere interesting.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

Thankfully I don't have this regret anymore, since I'm not teaching. But I definitely had it while at First Charter School two school years ago. I was making great money and had absolutely no time or energy to spend it. I never got to see friends and my poor boyfriend was helpless, watching me be exhausted all the time. It made me miserable. Last year, at Charter Elementary School, I was working the same kind of hours, though once the late winter/early spring came around, I refused to spend the extra daylight trapped in my classroom. I was no longer making great money, but I tried to be healthier in having an outside life.

Now I'm working part-time-ish-almost-full-time but for not a lot of money, and I'm totally fine with that. I have freedom, great people at work that I actually get to talk to (unlike all those great teachers I've 'worked with' who I barely get to say hi to in the halls once a week), I don't have to take anything home with me (physically or mentally), and a lot of times work is kind of fun.

I'm at the point in my life where I want to enjoy work but also enjoy life. I kind of feel like a lazy for saying it, but I don't want to work twelve hours a day. I want to have a job that I like with regular hours, so that I can have a real work/life balance.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

I'm pretty good there, I think.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I've never had tons of friends, and again, in the last couple school years it was difficult to maintain friendships and get-togethers, especially when they did things on weeknights. Which is why one of my goals in 2010 was to be more social. I ended up being quite social, seeing people on most weekends. 2011 has been much quieter, partly because I'm poorer.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have sillyness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

This really resonates with me. Sometimes I'm afraid that I put too much emphasis on what has been or what could be, not what *is*. I feel happiness more in retrospect than in present. I fondly remember all the extra time I had when teaching in a public school. I get nostalgic about our adventures in AmeriCorps. Often I think about how great life will be when we leave New York and move into a cheaper place with a garage and a washer/dryer. But I also want to realize when I enjoy life right here and now. We live in a great apartment, with a beautiful view, and we've slowly starting decorating it. Subways and errands are only a few minutes' walk away. I do know some great people here that I've built a history with. Some elements of life are really easy in New York, though some are much, much harder. I need to work on being in and appreciating the here and now.

I was perusing ye olde blogge archives this morning and was struck by how much I used to post, and that I had things to say. I wish I'd found time to blog more last year while teaching; there was a lot going on and it might have been helpful then and later to have some details to look back upon.

So perhaps I will try (again) to post more often and more meaningfully. I do have thoughts and memories to share.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Personal Goal #1!

Knit or crochet a garment!

I did a few rows of the back the day before we left for Greece, and I finished the pieces while we were in Paros, the second or third to last day of our honeymoon. (I did a lot of crocheting either on the long ferry rides or while half-watching cheesy American movies subtitled in Greek.)

Well after we got home, like a couple weeks later, I 'tried' it 'on'. I'd made the smallest size because I didn't want it to be baggy. Even though the sizes go by bust size and the smallest was definitely too small for me. So when I sort of draped the pieces over me, of course they were too small. But I'd figured this might happen, and I had a plan: I crocheted three rows of sc on both edges of both pieces. It definitely changes the look, but it's not terribly unnatural, I feel. (Originally I thought about doing a contrast color, like black! and doing a border along the bottom. Some friends said no way jose. :D)

This weekend, after all my progress with organizing and decluttering, I was kind of bored and there's nothing on tv lately, so I finally picked up my pieces and started sewing them together.
(Note: I am pretty bad at this. I should go into a LYS for some help on my next project.)

But, I figure I'm the only one seeing it up close, and who knows how much I'll actually wear it, so really, who cares.

I'm still wearing it now, and it's surprisingly warm, without a lot of bulk! I've never been much of a vest person, but come fall, maybe I will be! :)

Most importantly, this was my gateway garment--I proved to myself (with the simplest possible pattern, naturally) that I could make one. So now I am super excited about the prospect of making another, more fitted one! I can do it!

And if you know of any cute patterns, let me know! :)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

clean up, clean up, everybody clean up

(Sometimes my students would sing that as we tidied up. I never learned that song, either as a kid or as a teacher. Feel like maybe I missed out. :D)

I have been on a kick lately.

Recently I happened upon some blogs (Small Notebook and Unclutterer) and then an issue of O Magazine, and that finally got me inspired to start organizing and decluttering.

Last weekend and this weekend, I have done a lot of work eliminating unnecessary stuff, and organizing the things that I want to keep.

In one article in the magazine (whose theme was "decluttering your life"), the author joked about buying some pens even though she already had a bunch. That got me to remember the big fabric bin of pens, pencils and markers that have been on my desk for a long time. So I went through every single one and tested them (which created a fun sort of artwork):

These are all the pens and markers that don't work, and pencils with bad erasers. As a teacher, I hoarded pens and pencils, because a teacher is always, always running out of them. But now I can let go!

I've also eliminated almost two feet of books, some old gift baskets, and my old silverware set.

Additionally, I got rid of some old 'art', a collection of Europe photos (top: Rome; middle: Venice, Scotland; bottom: Paris) that I had blown up on foam core after my grand tour in summer 2001. I had them up on my wall in my studio apartment for awhile, but I couldn't figure out a non-damaging-enough way to keep them up. They've been in a pile on a shelf ever since, so I was happy to let them go.

All of this went out on the sidewalk last weekend. I dropped off two bags of clothes and an old suitcase at Goodwill too!

The bookshelves were full enough that they all had piles of books in front of the shelved books. But, I eliminated enough books that there are no more piles! I also finally tackled the shelf in our bedroom, which had piles piled on other piles--books, pictures, old paperwork, all kinds of crap. The top shelves now neatly hold my picture books, photos from film classes, little flip photo albums, maps, old calendars and notebooks, and my grad school diploma is actually visible (instead of hidden behind piles of those things).

Next up for decluttering is magazines. I have National Geographic from 2004 and Smithsonian from 2005. Some older ones have been living in a big plastic bin, and there are six and a half Dokuments full of more recent ones. (For the record, my stepdad had decades' worth of NatGeo, and my dad had a ton also, so it's not surprising that I've also kept mine.) Friends say I should get rid of them.

Recycling them would be criminal. Someone suggested giving them to an art teacher, but that means they'd be all cut up and destroyed! I do like the idea of giving them to a school or public library that could use them.

Yesterday I went through and actually sorted them, and now I am reluctant to part with them at all! Isn't that silly? They're just so full of interesting information and also pretty. What an amazing resource. But...sigh...I know that I can't keep them, since we're in an apartment and also, technically, I don't need them. So I will try to find a good place to donate the issues through 2009. That means they'll have to sit around more, though.

Overall, I am very happy with my progress, and I am excited to continue streamlining my stuff!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Just the word June conjures up warm days, short sleeves, relaxed classrooms, countdowns and vacation plans.

This is only my second June that won't see me in one of those relaxed classrooms. Last June I worked it so that I never taught a full week, because I arranged field trips and a field day, in addition to a planning day, plus a weekend away. The total crazy boy student, along with two troublesome girl students, insisted on being switched to the other class. One of my lowest students just didn't show up for the last three weeks of school. So my group was small and behaved fairly well. We kept the lights off to stay as cool as we could. All that made it a pretty good month. :)

This June things are pretty calm for me. I'm still working with that same company, working with teachers and schools. My hours are flexible and this week seems to be a quiet one. I like having flexibility. Since I'm not making much money, I haven't been very social, to avoid spending too much. It's been a quiet year in many ways.

Since that all feels still a bit temporary, it's difficult to look ahead. We don't really have vacation plans, so we'll have to make our own fun around the city. Like last night, we went into town for a quick dinner and then Manhattanhenge.

I hope your June is off to a happy start, not least because it's a short week!