07 June 2014

I want to inspire people

Yesterday night, I saw a FB post by a friend about inspiration.

It made me really hope that I can inspire people in my life - students, family, friends, even strangers that I just do random acts of kindness toward.

A few minutes after I saw this and was thinking of how I hope I inspire people, I saw an email notification on my school email.

At first, I was going to ignore it since I don't like to do work emails on the weekend and it was around 11pm on a Friday night.

However, I saw the sender, and it was a student.  I always look at those since there may be something wrong and I want to make sure the students are ok and don't need any help.  It was from a student who has struggled at the school for three years.  Had a child two years ago, didn't do too well last year, and at the start of this year, when she became one of my students, she was skipping school a lot.

The past few months, she has been on top of her game.  She has turned in all of her work, some even early, and is passing the class.  She also took part in the school's first open-mic night that I helped sponsor, and the school's first guitar concert where she played one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs ("Isn't She Lovely").

Yesterday morning, she came by my room before school and I told her how I had really loved her performance and told her the history of that song and why Stevie Wonder wrote it.  I also told her how much I love that she is doing well in school at this point.

I was shocked to get an email from her so late, so immediately went to read it.

It almost made me cry.

I always try to greet the kids into my class with a smile and a warm welcome to Global or welcome to Social Studies or welcome to room 412 or some other happy welcome greeting.  I don't ever really think about it making a difference, but I do love to see the kids smile back and some of them walk over to my door without a smile, but begin to smile or at least snicker at my giddiness when they see me and hear my greeting.

It is always hard as a teacher to realize when you make a difference in a child's life, but it feels great to know that it is so.

I guess I am an inspiration to some, just as I had hoped I was just a few minutes before seeing this email.

Makes me really love my job - especially in these last days as I have been stressed with end of year Regents Exam preparations.

03 June 2014

Copy that?!

Quick rant:

I have to be at school for zero period (before school class) every day but Friday. It kills me.  I love the class, enjoy the students and the coteachers, but getting up that early and then teaching a full day is tough.  I have literally had days when I want to stay on the subway an extra stop just so I miss mine and may "accidentally" miss the class.

I have also had a day when I suddenly started crying during my walk from the subway to the school because I started thinking about how much I dislike getting to school early and having to still teach a full load of classes and than have teacher meetings or an additional (mandatory) student help session at the end of the day.

Today, was a day the students took a Regents exam so there was no zero period day.

So wonderful!!!

Words cannot express my joy knowing that today I did not have to get up early to teach that class!

I got to sleep a little later, eat breakfast, leave for work with my boif, and just be relaxed in the morning.

One benefit of getting to school for zero period is that I am always the first person to get to one of the two copy machines for teacher use.  I can copy to my hearts content until it is time to get to class.

Because I knew that today was a late arrival day for me, I made all my copies yesterday. However, after grading a class's work last night, I decided that I wanted to print their progress reports so they could see their current grades.  (Yes, NYC is still in school and won't be finished until June 26 - that is not a typo.  June 26)

I got to school 20 minutes before school started (instead of an hour and a half early like zero period days) and went to the copy room to print my 26 single-sided copies.

When I got there, both machines were in use and one teacher was almost finished with one of the machines.

Before I could print my items, the teacher that was on the machine what was nowhere near finished said that she was about to start copying a shit-load of stuff on the other machine, too.

I almost screamed at her.  How can you use BOTH machines in the copy room?  I asked her fairly calmly, but in my head I was screaming.  This made absolutely no sense to me.

There are two copiers for 30+ staff.  You can't gank both of them to make your last minute copies to do something you have known about for over a week.  You also shouldn't be making hundreds of copies early in the morning that you need them anyway -- copiers jam and you may not get what you are trying to get copied.

I'm just saying.  That's what preps and lunch and after school are for.

She said that since she got to school earlier, she had the right to take up both machines.

I said that I also had the right to get ready for my first period class and to be able to print 26 pages.

She said something jokingly to me and pushed my head a bit. I'm not sure what she said because I not only was pissed about the copies, but also don't like my head being touched, let alone pushed - and, I'm a strong son-of-a-gun, but this one does not know her strength.  I restrained myself from putting a hand on her - it was still before 8:15am, and I like getting paid for work.

She allowed me to get in on one of the machines after a little while and I finally got to print my reports before the start of the day, but was still kind of pissed about the whole situation.

Not a good start to my Tuesday.

I tried to go back to this motto about good ish and breathe easy.

Getting my replacement ink cartridge in the mail today makes it easier to breathe it all out since I will be able to make more copies at home again.

And it is only Tuesday, despite my thinking it feels as though at least half a week has passed since Sunday and that it could be Thursday...

30 April 2014

Sharing Sharolyn's Joy

I still feel a rush of emotions when I remember my uncle and when I reread my post (here) I wrote after he died.

My birthday is still bittersweet because it was on my birthday that my family buried my uncle.

Now, 6+ years later, a lot of those feelings rushed back to me.

A few days ago I got word that his ex-wife as ill, in the hospital on life support, and had multiple organ failure.

I remember when they were married.  She was the American wife to a kind of old-school Nigerian man, but in front of us at least, she was always so friendly.  Always full of cheer.  I rarely saw her not smiling.

To me, at the time, their divorce seemed sudden and out of nowhere.  Looking back and at my uncle, I'm sure being married to him and dealing with all of his issues could have been draining and straining.

Even after the divorce, she would sometimes be seen at some Nigerian family/friend functions.

At my uncles funeral, she was there with us as my siblings, my father, and my mother went through the emotional service. She was there smiling as I read my blog post for the mass of guests.  She was there with us even through the after events.

Once she found us all on FaceBook, it was on.   She was often one of the first to compliment me or my family on our recent photos and wished us each a happy birthday each year.  Always two days early.

She was so freaking nice that her illnesses and the fact that they made her suffer for longer than I could imagine dealing with illness make me cry just typing this.

It hurts to think that I didn't speak to her since early March, and even that was through email correspondence.

It makes me wish that all people in my life - current, past, close, not-as-close-as-we-once-were could be seen now, given a hug, or at least share a laugh and some messages.  Messages of how they've touched my life, improved my mood, made me think, shared my joy, helped me in times of sorrow, made me stretch beyond my comfort zone, made me question myself, made me improve myself, or even just sat next to me during a boring workshop or meeting.

I always hold myself out to be strong and steadfast in my stoic nature.

I remember when some crazy stuff happened to Kid Sis #2 and my mom was shocked at how hard I took it - shocked at how much it impacted me and that I cried, hard.

I cry over shit.

I've started to cry at little things - including stupid scenes in tv shows.  I cry at joyful things as well as sorrowful things.

I am almost always impacted when events involve people I love, have loved, or care about.

I can't help it.

I don't know that I want to help it anymore.

I'm fine with my emotions coming out at times.

What I want to be better at is contacting people I care about more regularly.  I need to be better about letting them know how much they mean to me before it's too late, or before they forget that I ever cared.

I need to spread the joy that my Aunt Sharolyn spread with her smile and all of her kind words.

Hopefully, she knew how much I loved her and her energy...

29 April 2014

My (no longer) secret love affair

I used to be the person that made fun of this stuff when I saw women modeling them in infomercials.  I used to think that people who wore them must be lazy and insane.


I never understood the idea.  Why not just wear tights?  Or just wear skinny jeans?

Now, I am (almost no longer ashamed to admit that I am) a convert.

Two weeks ago, I became the owner of multiple pairs of jeggings.

I was walking through Uniqlo one day a few weeks ago and wanted so bad to find something that I could wear, something springy, something to bring me into the warmer weather that we seemed to be moving into, yet was quickly taken away from us here in NYC.

I couldn't see any tops I really liked and pants of the world don't fit my body frame, so I always bypass those.

I got to the back of the store, where it was surprisingly empty.  I saw a wall full of beautiful colors.  I walked closer and touched them and they felt so incredibly soft for pants.  I remembered that Uniqlo alters hems and waists for free, so I decided to try on a few pair.  I was hesitant because, even with the hope of alterations, I can never find a pair that a tailor can alter; usually there is too much fabric to take in at the waist if the thighs actually fit.  Former track sprinter problems, right?

Anyway, something made me grab a few pairs in a few different flavours and a few different sizes and head to the dressing room. 

I fell in love with what may be my most hated item of clothing from an informercial (2nd only to the Snuggie).

Me and my jeggings
The pants fit my whole lower body.  There was no gaping.  They were not too tight on my thighs.  They had really cool colours.  They were reasonably priced.

It was a spring-time miracle.

I admit it - I love jeggings - though I don't fully have to call them that since instead of that bastardized name, Uniqlo calls them "legging pants", not jeggings.

I don't know why I doubted them, and the people who wear them, for so long. 

These pants are the best of two worlds.  I have always loved athletic tights - I would live in those if I didn't think they were inappropriate for anywhere besides a place to workout and the path to get to that place to workout.  And sometimes the grocery store on the way home from working out.  A good pair of athletic tights in the right thickness and a funky pattern are so incredibly amazing!!

Jeans are also my fave.  There had previously been no other pant I could wear to any occasion beside jeans.  These leggings have back pockets like regular jeans which is so awesome.  And belt loops in case they start to gape as I wash them over and over again.  I can dress them up or down - they are my new go to pant.

Now, I have four new loves of my wardrobe life.  Purple, white (which I'm pretty sure I will somehow stain during my first wear), and two pairs of the black. Two black because I know I will wear out, or fade out the first pair through washing.  Two will allow me to save a fresh new black pair for when that happens.

I will no longer dis legging pant wearers, and I hope you all won't dis me.

26 April 2014

Parent of the year?

I really can't understand why this was seen as acceptable by the adults who are involved with this child.

21 April 2014

What has gone wrong in my life?!?!

The other day as I was speeding around town in my Mini Cooper, I did something unthinkable.  Something I almost don't want to admit.  Something that made me question my sanity, my humanity, and made me use language I've never before spoken.

I was in StL for the 2nd leg of my much needed and anticipated Spring Break.  I had left Target after returning a purchase that after leaving the store initially, I hated and would have returned right away had it not been almost closing time and the Customer Service area had been opened.

I forgot I'd paid with cash and was really excited to go spend that returned money on greasy, delicious StL Chinese food.

So excited that while pulling out of the massive, busy parking lot, I did the unthinkable.  Something that after publishing this post, I will never speak of again.  Something that made me wish Papa Pope, of Scandal fame, was with me to give me a speech about just how fed up with me he had become and how he was going to ship me off or lock me up some place so that I could clear my thoughts.

The weather was beautiful - mid 70s, sunny - so I had the sunroofs opened and the windows down.  I've missed radio since I tend to listen to my downloaded music or the crazies around me during my NYC commutes, so I was blaring various stations throughout my stay in Missouri.  Top 40, Hip Hop, R&B, Rock, NPR, whatever suited my ears, I could sing along to, or was interesting.

Something seemed to happen to my ears as I anticipated my Chinese food and enjoyed the weather.

A song came on the radio and I not only listened to it, I sang along with the lyrics. I seemed to actually enjoy it.  I sang along and even started to slightly dance as I drove onto the highway.

When I got to the next exit, I finally snapped out of my seeming trance and realized what a horrible thing I had done.  I turned the radio completely off.  I pulled off at the exit and pulled into the nearest parking space so I could really contemplate what I had done.

As I sat there, off of Bellvue, I started to wonder what had gone wrong in my life.  How could I have seriously just been singing along to a Puffy/Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy/Sean Combs song?

I'm not going to slam his production or money making abilities, I won't even talk bad about those ridiculous wife-beater shirts he made that people actually bought.  But his ability to rock a mike is more than shitty -- it hurts my ears.  Ordinarily.  Of course, there are songs when he did a collabo with Biggie that I can tolerate, but the song I was jamming to was his ode to Biggie after his death. It is so horrible.  And somehow, I seemed to know much of the lyrics and to momentarily enjoy it.

I sat in that parking space for close to 5 minutes trying to figure out my life. I questioned if the sun from the sunroof may have altered my capacity to distinguish good music from the really shitty.  I wondered if maybe time away from radio and my quest to not complain as much in my life made me unable to discern a valid rapper from a Diddy.

I had no answers, which led me to fall on a term I have never thought or used in my life.  A term, which, given the present circumstances, seemed to suit me well.  Ne'er-do-well.

If I have become a person who cannot only tolerate Puff Daddy, but also sings along with his music, with the windows down for all to hear, and even sing the same freaking song in my head later in the day, I must have become a ne'er-do-well.

I've never used or thought that term in my life, but it popped into my head when I was contemplating where my life has gone wrong that made me want to sing along with Diddy.  I'm pretty sure my actions fall into the category.

I will never speak of my musical slip up again.  And I hope that no one holds it against me because all I will do is deny, deny, deny.

Instead of dwelling on this dark patch of my life, I will strive to move beyond being a ne'er-do-well. I will strive to better my life so that I never fall to such low depths again.