Monday, May 26, 2008

I think...

that I'm having a breakdown.

I've been sobbing for the last fifteen minutes.

Earlier today I felt good about things because I submitted nine more resumes this weekend.

But thinking and talking about the future = sobbing in my bed in the middle of the night. That is neither normal nor healthy.

I've looked up my mental health insurance--it's covered (good job, Timothy's Law) and there's someone right in my neighborhood.

Happy Memorial Day

Friday, May 23, 2008


The Roos have been crazy lately--with the teachers who lack classroom management. I'm not finding myself very sympathetic, as it's MAY and by now they should have been working on it all year to prepare for the spring insanity. As of now, apparently the good/in-control teachers are being asked to reprimand the class FOR that lacking teacher. Dude. Get your shit together, it's not even your first year teaching.

Anyway, the Roos are decent for me--squirrelly, sure, a little; chatty, sometimes, of course. But that's one of my great success stories--after my first year (and during too) I've worked really hard at management--I set the very strict tone in September and I fuss at them over small, little things. That prevents the big crazy stuff and lets them know the classroom is a peaceful place to be and to work. And I think they do actually appreciate it, because recently I only raise my eyebrows and they shush each other.

So this week we've been evaluating writing in portfolios and working on revising. Which means I'm actually giving them individual work time during class to write. This can be a sticky situation, as they're often only quiet and on task if I'm standing up front glaring at everybody. Once I circulate, the chatter creeps up and I have regulate. Loudly and sternly.

Also, since our recent field trip went so well and we all had such a good time, Ms Math and I decided to have the classes compete for another field trip in a few weeks. We will be calculating homework percentages and class points, and the class with the highest number will go to the zoo. (Ha! For a trip, not for imprisonment. Although some we might be tempted to leave there...) The students know about so this week I've been extra tough on them, issuing that challenge. "You CAN all be "A" students. I WANT you to keep all your class points. Focus and do your work!"

And yesterday, they really did! Yes, I had to move them into rows instead of tables, but they all sat quietly, and nearly all of them were busy writing. It was very gratifying.

At the back of the class sits ESL Girl. She's pretty low functioning altogether, not just because of language, so she struggles a lot with writing. Her grades struggle even more because most of the time she doesn't do anything at all. This girl wouldn't know a paragraph if it hit her in the face.

A few months ago, during the after school program that was cancelled months ago, I sat with her and walked her through the four square process and then the essay process. She did fine, for her level, but I figured it would kind of go in one ear and out the other. We haven't done essays since then, either.

So yesterday, as I was walking around, I passed by her and glanced at her notebook. There was a complete four square and gosh darn it--she was in the fourth paragraph of her essay!

That pretty much made my day as a teacher.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


After, or despite, all this thinking and angsting (is that a verb? it is now), I'm pretty sure I have to stay in New York for another year. If I had gotten an offer out of state I might have taken it, but after all the go-nowhere's getting too late to think about moving, because of my lease being up for renewal so soon.

So now, to think about the job situation...


I've 'applied' on open market for several dozen positions, both English and elementary. I don't even know how it works, or if it will work. I hadn't wanted to risk another crappy school in the city. But, better the devil you know? Or take the plunge into something new and different?

again, argh.

Though it's probably pointless, I'm even letting myself think about non-teaching jobs. I looked around a teeny bit, but sadly found mostly either admin-assistant positions (which sound fabulously easy [but boring?] compared to being in the classroom, and which now I feel way overqualified for) or education-related jobs that require management/data experience (which I would say I'm HIGHLY qualified for, but obviously their definitions would not agree) or things that I don't find interesting at all. Hmph.

For now, I'm keeping my eyes open for the next month or so. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know. :)

Brooklyn Bridge 125th Birthday Celebration

The colorful light installation will illuminate the New York City skyline every evening from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM.
Recommended viewing areas from Thursday, May 22 through Monday, May 26 include:

Empire Fulton Ferry State Park – Enter at Main and Water Streets (Thursday through Saturday only)
Brooklyn Bridge Park – Enter at Main and Water Streets
Brooklyn Heights Promenade (Remsen Street to Orange Street along the East River) Fulton Ferry Landing – Water and Old Fulton Streets

Esplanade along South Street from Wall Street to the Manhattan Bridge including Pier 17

Monday, May 19, 2008

random listy

1. Who would have ever thought that in one night, in the same hour even!, on different networks, there would be TWO mentions of Schrodinger's cat on television? Crazy!

2. The season finale of Bones totally blew my mind. I love that show.

3. It would not be possible for me to care less about American Idol and either David. Nevertheless, I'll probably watch the finales, my finger poised on the fast-forward button.

4. We were very sad when our favorite diner closed. The Cheyenne Diner was an old-fashioned place, right across the street from B&H. It was kicked out by their owners, who also run the Skylight Diner. A couple weeks ago, though we felt like traitors, we tried them out. It was actually very good. The Belgian waffle was just as delicious as the Cheyenne's (the main reason I loved it--hands down the best waffles I've had in New York), and the service was very fast. The waitress didn't even mind when we lingered on Sunday morning to work on the Onion crossword puzzle.

5. Last Friday night we had an AWESOME dinner at Florencia 13 in the Village. Oh man, it was perfect! Many of you know my eating quirks, so you probably understand that I rarely get to have a full meal at a restaurant. But not here! It began with a deliciously sweet and tart black cherry mojito, then progressed to roasted corn on the cob (skewered on sticks! corncob kabobs!). The caesar salad was perfect too--creamy, no-anchovy dressing, heavily parmesaned, garnished with tortilla strips. MMM. For dessert, there was a brownie that seemed blah, but somehow turned excellent when combined with the ice cream.

6. After that perfect, delicious dinner, we participated in an Improv Everywhere mission! The email instructed us to show up at 9pm with cameras and flashes. Turns out the mission was to line us all up across the entire bridge and do a wave of flashes from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back. What a neat idea! So the big crowd trudged to and over the bridge, in the cold, windy rain. Unfortunately, once we were all in our line, nothing happened for like thirty or forty minutes. Just standing around, trying to huddle under feeble umbrellas and stay warm. My camera (I had both but kept the new DSLR in my backpack) was covered in rain--but still performed valiantly!

7. For some reason, on Monday morning I was motivated to make up a long list of things to do. I am proud to say that I have gotten many of them crossed off the list (which, as I hope you know, is very gratifying): take out trash, clean bathroom, vacuuming, dishes, countertops, post office, eyebrows, groceries, phone calls, amazon order. There are plenty of items left on the list: take out recycling, do laundry, work out, read my photography books, write some notecards. But I am proud of myself for getting a lot done in the last two days. Now I shall attack more of the data inputting I'm a little behind on, whose deadline is fast approaching.

8. When working on outlining with my classes today, I listed my hobbies as skydiving, globetrotting, paper airplanes, playing cello, and making nachos. Then, making a list of goals, I asked them to add one for me.
"Having kids?"
"Nah, everyone does that! I'm not just anyone. something unique!"
"Be in the military!"
"Wasn't I already in the military?" with a raised eyebrow and grin.
"Win the lottery!" "Be a bookwriter!"
"Oh man, I could write a whole book just about this class...."

9. It's only Tuesday and I'm tired.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

temporary one

New York was always meant to be a transitory experience. I moved here with the intention of only staying a couple years.

The city, while interesting, never captured my heart and/or soul the way it has others. I've been to many places more beautiful, cultural, fascinating; I know from experience this is not the end-all be-all that some people insist it is.

This place is loud. It is EXPENSIVE. It is materialistic and extremely ethnocentric.

Sure, there are well-known buildings, sights, museums, parks. And the hours are late. Yeah, there are lots of plays and shows. Yep, the public transportation is decent.

Meh, I say. This was never meant to be a place of permanence, it was never meant to be a place for me to set down roots.

Yet I've been here for four years (minus one month; my NYCversary is June 15). I've had the same job for four years! I never even attended a school for that long, ever. I've lived in this same apartment for two full years! This is a minor miracle, maybe a major miracle, if it heralds my ever-burgeoning adulthood. I love this apartment.

I have a wonderful relationship of over two years already, with someone who loves New York in all the ways I don't. Even more miraculously, I have developed friendships here in New York (all through and because of the internet; I hope the nerdiness of that reality is waning as it becomes more prevalent). I don't see any of them very often, but they're all wonderful and interesting people.

My apartment lease is up this month. It's one of many decisions I have to make this spring, but I've been pretending not to notice it. Every single aspect of my life, my future, is up for grabs in the next month or so. These decisions, the possibilities, the consequences are gnawing away at me, even as I try to ignore them all.

Here I must make a choice about homeostasis. Everything could stay the same--same cute apartment, same silly frustrating job, same long commute to see my lovely boyfriend. What does it mean to choose to continue to stay doing the exact same thing? Does it mean I'm scared to do something different? Does that show weakness?

Or do I take that leap into the unknown yet again? I've already quit a job with no safety net once before, I don't need to do that again. I've gotten far too comfortable with a regular paycheck. Do I abandon this job track and do something to pay the bills while waiting for career inspiration to strike? Do I keep looking for teaching jobs in other cities? Am I ready to abandon all the relationships I've built here? Am I ready to start over with apartment hunting, learning streets, finding interesting bars and parks, making friends, creating a completely new life for me, planting roots? Because I do want that, whether it's this year or the next one. I'm done with this temporary life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

more of the same

I was greeted this afternoon with insults and curse words inscribed upon my windshield. Nice, right?

Later I went to an interview. I almost didn't go, because I didn't know what positions they were looking for, and it was in the dreaded F.R. (I'm abbreviating, but it's waaay out there in its own world, and you've most likely never ever been there, nor will you). But I'm glad I did. It was a good experience to see another public school. Many things were different from my own school, which I enjoyed seeing. You see, being in the same place, doing the same thing, for four years in a row, it has me thinking and expecting that school is just that way. And that's not true; it's been very pleasant to find how things could be different.

Also, their principal informed that scores came out last week! Did you guys know that? I'm really excited to see how my students did--this year I felt really good about the improvement of my kids, at least in writing.

Oh yeah--I had two of my classes listen to "I Am a Rock" by Simon & Garfunkel today. We actually discussed the metaphors and the speaker's motivations, and they totally got into and completely dug the song. You should have seen them moving and bopping around!

Anyway, blah, I'm not very descriptive or specific. Meh. I'm hungry and watching tv.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

good vs bad

I remember reading Banner in the Sky in fifth grade. I don't remember many details, but the thrill of the mountain stayed with me. That came back to me when I saw the book, The Kid Who Climbed Everest. I began reading it this weekend, read voraciously on my prep yesterday and then stupidly forgot to bring it home. Today, I had three periods off in a row. Usually I work on grading and planning and stuff during that time. But today I just had to read. I read the entire time, roughly 2 1/2 hours, and finished the whole thing. It was fascinating, the details of an extreme climb. I had no idea, for example, that climbers have to go up, then back down, then up a little further, then back down, etc, several times, to get acclimatized. Anyway, great book, go check it out sometime.

Recently I've been getting some emails about interviews. Which is great, of course. However, they're wanting me to come to their school, during the day. Which doesn't make sense to me. For a second interview/demo lesson or whatever, sure, because then both parties are interested and knowledgeable and there's a potential good fit. But without even a telephone interview, why do these schools expect me to drop my real job to stop by? I know nothing about them, they know nothing about me.
I feel really bad, but I have to say no/ask if there's another/later time. And apparently there aren't for these schools. It makes me really frustrated and sad! Am I doing the right thing?

Ms Principal is looking to make some changes and adjustments for next year. I think that's great, and I really respect that. Legally our school needs to do some things differently. I am all for that--why not try out some new things? However, of course, many staff members are all, waah! waah! about it. I'm up for something new. God. Maybe I can survive another year at this silly school. Sigh.

More to come about that, there are many anxious thoughts percolating.

Monday, May 12, 2008


A new student transferred to the school and into the Roos last Monday. In the WEEK she's been here, she's managed to:

A)be absent once
B)be involved in a gigantic fight
C)do zero homework
D)do very little in my class (though apparently does well in math)
and now
E)have a sidekick open and on inside her desk during class today,
F)has the GALL to come up at the end of class and claim she didn't know she couldn't have a cell phone! She gestured to my wall of charts about expectations/rules/etc as she said it.
My temper flared as I snapped, "That is NONSENSE," while pointing to the bright orange sentence strips with general school rules, including NO PHONES, IPODS, ETC.

This kind of thing makes me worry about breaking into curse words and getting into trouble.

Seriously, kid, get your act together, cause I sure ain't buying any of your bullshit. In freaking MAY. God.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


On Thursday, Somebody surprised me with this:

WOW! This weekend I took a whole lot of photos. Not like that's different than any other weekend, but the DSLR world makes it much more fun and easy. The edges of this pigeon's open wings seem to actually be in focus--this was shot on the fly.

Look at the bokeh goodness that happens so effortlessly!

Today I got one of the most important accessories ever:

Kind of puts things into perspective in a twisted way--I'd much rather learn about and play with this new camera than think about the jobs I have not gotten and the looming of decision deadlines...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ma'am, Yes Ma'am! (hee hee)

The Herd, this afternoon, during silent warm up:

Girl student, out of the blue: Miss, were you in the military?

Me [raising an eyebrow]: Um, that's strange. Where did that come from?

Girl: [Neighbor boy] told me.

Me [turning to NB]: So, what now?

NB: Well, I heard from some people...

Me: Really?

NB: Yeah, there are...rumors...

Me [trying not to guffaw]: How strange! So, what do you think? Do you think I was in the military?

NB [shrugging]: I'm not sure...but there is some proof.

I did my best not to laugh out loud and got back to class.

Oh man, these kids.

What's more, this is not the first time my students have asked me this. Like, this isn't even the first *year* students have asked me this. Sweet!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Meme goodness!

I've been tagged by both Mister Teacher and 15! Thank you!

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

Let's see, in the spring of 1998, it was my sophomore year of college. I moved out of my awesome dorm room and into a nearby apartment. (Since it was next to campus, they rented by room instead of by apartment--my room in a 4-bedroom, 2-bath apartment cost $250 a month! I'm actually laughing thinking about that number. Wow.) Since even that tiny rent was a stretch, I was driving home (1.5 hours each way) every other weekend to work at Starbucks. I was thinking about my major, that French wouldn't be that great on its own, so I applied to transfer to UW to major in French and Women Studies.

I'll tell you this much, I would have NEVER in a million years thought I'd be living in New York being a teacher! I would have laughed uproariously at the very idea.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

--Finish vacuuming (I tidied up my main room this morning! But my swiffer is still charging.).

--Eat a real meal (do nachos count?).

--Walk up the block to the store for some fake butter.

--Email a couple schools for post-interview updates.

--(Pretend to) Write lesson plans for the week (but I'm not holding my breath).

Plus I should really work out again. And watch the Netflix movie that's been sitting on my dvd player for a month. And bring down the recycling.

3) Snacks I enjoy:

--Pepper-jack nachos

--Dry Cereal (right now I'm on a Frosted Joe's O's or Cookie Crisp kick)


--Frozen french fries or tater tots



--Wafer cookies

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

--Travel the world.

--When I was ready to hang out in the same place for awhile, I would open a restaurant serving only food I like. (for example: big leafy salads, nachos, mojitos, curly fries, pineapple, spiced apple cider, cheese pizza, garlic naan, chocolate mousse, fresh squeezed orange juice, corn on the cob, edamame, juicy pears, hot cocoa, cinnamon toast, veggie tacos, fruit tacos, authentic French crepes, baked potatoes, granola, smoothies, Belgian waffles, nacho tots, LOTS of fresh bread and butter, etc) Oh, and people could sit and read, or knit, or write on laptops. And music would play all day. Don't you want to come to my cafe now? :)

--Travel some more.

--I would give lots of money to support organizations like AmeriCorps, HeadStart, mosquito nets in Africa, and something to increase teachers' salaries.

(Can I admit that I'm not a bit depressed that I can't actually do any of these things? I keep coming back to add more to my cafe menu list. And my passport has sat unused for months now....)

5) Three of my bad habits:

--Being lazy

--Having lots of ideas and thoughts but not being good at follow-through

--Hoarding things. (I have a jar of this yummy spread, it's like nutella but with a creamy vanilla striped in--bought in Barcelona in December of 2005 and still unopened!)

6) 5 places I have lived:

--Issaquah, WA (With divorced parents, I lived in a lot of houses around the Seattle area. But Issaquah was the first.)

--Bellingham, WA

--Perry Point, MD

--Queens, NY

--Can I count Paris, France for that month of study abroad? Please?

7) 5 jobs I have had:


--Catering worker for company picnics


--Macy's watch salesperson

--Mortgage assistant

8) 6 peeps I wanna know more about:

Is this where I link and tag others?

--Jen at Quarter Life Crisis

--California Teacher Guy

--Miss Brave


--Nicole at Brushes with Adulthood

--Ms M at NY Teacher

but anyone else please feel free to tag yourself. :)