28 September 2012

I became a cab driver

Last night I rode in an NYC cab for the first time.  I was going from mid-town around 96th Street up to Harlem around 135th Street.  Around where the Apollo is located, around some really fancy, well-known restaurants.

I erased all of my visions of Taxicab Confessions from HBO and was ready to roll with it.

Unfortunately, the cab driver did not know how to get to where I was trying to go to.

I had to look up directions on Google Maps and be a real backseat-driver for him.

It was pretty ridiculous.  His excuse was that he doesn't usually go uptown.

I kept thinking that he should really get around more.

Then I remembered an episode of Sex and the City (I know, I am all about HBO today) when the ladies were talking about how they don't leave their neighborhood and some of them had never been outside of their borough.

Then I figured it must really be true that some people in this city don't venture out of their little area even though transportation is so readily available, and the city is really not that big when you think about it that way.

BF works with someone who travels from PA every day to work. I have heard of people who do Connecticut, as well.  Even Long Island is a journey.

Yet there, are people who don't leave their few blocks.


26 September 2012

Not Quite Wordless Wednesday: Living Room

This is my living room.

Yes, I have been living here for a month and some days and still don't have living room furniture.  We have basically been using the place as a studio - living in mainly the bedroom.  I'm getting some more counter space for the kitchen today and will be more comfortable using that space after that happens - I even plan to cook my first meal in the apartment afterward.

Today, on our third day off of the year from Jewish holidays, I am going to go to Target to get some sort of organizer to put into the bedroom.  Not sure how I will carry the item(s) back home on the subway and the walk to the crib - may have to get a cab if it is not too expensive.

I have the yoga mat for morning centering/sanity and for sitting when I am grading or planning for school - though, some of that, too happens in the bedroom (which I hate since I like it to just be for sleeping).  I have my two teacher bags sitting neatly on the floor.  I need to get a couch, but I'm not sure when that will happen due to money and me not being home for it to be delivered.  I would like to get a desk, but that is not a necessity since I have never used one in places I have lived.

The television has been watched for a total of about two hours in the month and a week since I have been in NYC.  Crazy since I used to be watching tv from the time I got home from work until the time I went to bed - at least 5-7 hours each day.

I am going to have the cable cut off and just keep the internet.

24 September 2012

My luck and money are running out

Went to try and get payroll information squared away today.  Again.  Again, I was given information that contradicted what I had been told before.

At least they finally let me fill out some tax forms - a month after being hired.

I was not paid on the first pay day on the 15th, and the way it is looking, I may not get paid on the next pay day - the first.

The last time I had a check come in was May 22 when I received the lump sum payment for the rest of my summer.  I am always good at budgeting that money and even have some money saved up by the time I start getting paid in the next school year.

I am very lucky that I had a substantial savings (well, at least for me) when this all began.  I had enough to last my previous, typical life for close to a year.

This is what I saw today when
I opened one of my savings accounts.
Life should definitely be more than this.
I am unlucky that the savings has almost completely dwindled down to naught.

The image is from one account.  The other account is a bit better, but still not what it used to be.  And definitely not enough to last me more than another two months.

Flying back and forth to NYC dealing with issues that led to the move was expensive.  Moving wasn't expensive, but rebuying some items I didn't ship was a little costly.

This move was not anticipated.  The expenses I am dealing with were not anticipated.

Not getting paid until over a month into teaching was not anticipated.

I have to look on the bright side and hope that the money starts coming in in the next few weeks.

20 September 2012

Why am I not shocked?

I took this picture early last week.

Three-day old pile of trash on the sidewalk

I walked by this pile of trash two days in a row before I had to stop and take a picture of it on the third morning on the way to work.

Same pile.

Sitting there for three days.

Getting bigger and bigger.

Stinkier and stinkier.

In a different area of the city, there was one day the trash was picked up (after sitting there for days) when there were so many flies still floating in the air that it was almost like walking through a spider web trying to get past the former trash pile area.

I really don't understand the old-school way of getting trash picked up in the city.

I know New Yorkers think they are the shit and all, but, this is ridiculous.  I think they think it is normal to have trashed bags piled on the side of the road.  It is all over the city - rich areas and poorer areas.

Perhaps they have never heard of trash cans and dumpsters.

I would not want to grab these nasty, rat-invested bags if I was a trash man.  I would demand the city to find some way to get bins or dumpsters or something that is more conducive to cleanliness.

In Da Lou, if you put your trash can out before sundown the day before they pick it up or leave it out for more than an evening after they pick up your can and empty it into a dumpster, you are cited and may eventually have to pay a fine.

Here, trash on the streets is so common that I was shocked when I came across a piece of sidewalk not ridden with old, hardened, black pieces of used gum.  (I often wonder if they are still pink or white underneath all of the street scum.)  I often wonder what color yellow the subway platforms really would be if they were power washed.

I wonder if those Febreeze commercials with the blindfolded people would work if they sprayed in some of the super stinky (think urine, body odor, funk, stale air, feces, and any other thing that smells really bad) areas of subway walkways and standing areas.  I wish I could just not breathe during my walk from the 2/3 trains to the L at 14th Street.  In the afternoon, I am going to start getting off at Union Square and walking the couple blocks up to the 14th Street entrance for the 2/3 since I will be able to breathe slightly cleaner air in the open.

There are many things I like about NYC, but the trash situation is on my hate list.

Yesterday, I saw an article that said that New York was the dirtiest city in the country.

If you have ever been in NYC three days ahead of trash pickup day, I am not sure why anyone should be shocked.

18 September 2012

New Yorkers don't like straight lines

I don't know what it is about New Yorkers and the way they walk down a street.

I have never seen so many people that cannot walk in a straight line.

My mind has tried to come up with logical reasons for this occurrence.  Here are a few of my guesses:
  • New Yorkers are so used to walking through big crowds in certain areas of the city that even when they are walking on a sidewalk with only three other people occupying the super-wide sidewalk with them, they wander in a zigzag motion out of habit.
  • The city is has so few nearby parks and outside play areas that people don't learn coordination at a young age. 
  • Along the previous note, I cannot for the life of me understand how so many people in a city lack the ability to turn their head to look at something and not have their body move in the same direction.  I knew a girl in college who did this when she drove, and it was frightening.  When walkers do it, it is not as much frightening as it is annoying as hell.  
  • Another guess is that the advertisers in New York are so good that they really do create magnets that draws people to whatever they see.
  • Some of the people I have seen will suddenly start walking from one side of the sidewalk all the way toward the store side, as though they are about to enter a store.  It is always to my chagrin that the person is not going into any store on either the current block or even the next five blocks.  There is, again, some sort of magnet drawing the person toward a store.  I guess the magnet is not strong enough to make them go inside.  Instead the person continues to walk close to the storefronts for  at least a block and them, of course, migrates back to the other side of the sidewalk and back again since it is impossible to continue to walk in a straight line.
  • My final guess is that the people who walk in s-formations on the street actually really do have eyes on the back of their head.  When they see me coming behind them, they immediately start to walk in whatever direction I am moving to try and get around them.  When I finally do succeed, they proceed to laugh behind my back.
Kid Sis #1's dog is so 
incredibly cute and friendly!
I was in a Rite Aid the other day picking up some dog treats for Kid Sis #1's super-cute, new, Chihuahua dog she adopted.  While in the store, I saw a phenomenon that I have never witnessed before.

When I finished gathering the dog treats and a Snickers bar so I would not act like Betty White during the bout of hunger I was suffering, I went to get in line to check out.

I have never been in a store and had absolutely no clue what was going on with the checkout line.  I started to get in line behind a man who looked to be in the line.  Then I glanced to my left and saw three people who looked like they might also be in line and was totally confused.

Why was I confused?

WTF is up with the long break in the line?
Because the three people who looked to be in line were super far from the man who looked to be in the actual line.

I had to take a picture of this ish!

Help me understand what the reasoning was for this man to be standing so far back from the start of the line.

It's not like the man in blue was at an ATM and required some privacy so no one stole his pin number.  I have never even seen people at money machines give people this much room!

I asked the man in red twice if he was in line - I hoped that the second time I asked he would realize that he was too far back to make any sense, but he just stayed where he was until the man was finished.

When the man in red went to the counter to check out, the two women in front of me only moved forward to where the man in red had been standing.

Fortunately, a new checker came to the front about where you see the 75% off sign and I went into that line and no longer had to deal with the madness.

17 September 2012

I will not play ping pong

As I wander the streets of NY I see some really cool things.  Sometimes I remember to take my camera out and take a pic.

I loved the intensity of table tennis as I watched the Olympics this summer.  There were some mean-mugs to opponents that could kill!!

I saw this place and decided that when I finally get paid, I might go in and beef up my non-existant ping-pong skills.

I will own one of the rackets that cost upward of $400.  I will be able to stand 10" from the table and play my opponent.  My matches and sets will be so intense that I will have to invest in the prescription strength deodorant and will need to buy some sweat-wicking clothing.  I will be able to give people the evil eye as they are about to serve me the little ball.

I won't play ping-pong.

I will play table tennis.

13 September 2012

Toilets and tiredness

As I sit here waiting for the moment when the parents will arrive in my room for Curriculum Night (Open House), I am trying to think of moments that tickle me or things that will keep me alert and focused.

One moment from today:
Student came into the office and just stood there.
Secretary: What is it?
Student: Hmm.
Secretary: What is it?  You know you can't just come in here to hang out, right?
Student: I know.  My stomach hurts.
Secretary: Well.  Do you need to use the bathroom?
Student: I don't know.
Secretary: Well, go try and use the bathroom.  Just sit there and see if there is a release.  If you have to, go ahead and rub your knees and lean forward a bit to make it release more easily.

Only two and a half more hours, then a forty-five minute commute home to make this a 16-hour day from door step to door step.  Hopefully, tonight, I get more than 5 hours of sleep.

10 September 2012

Accidental fashion

During my Saturday wandering through the city to see what I can find, I stumbled on New York's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Really cool people watching!

I don't think I saw anyone famous, though I did see some women standing with a ton of photographers around them snapping shots.  I assumed they must be models of some sort.

I saw people in ridiculous heels.  Some of them walked well, others were stumbling to the nearest wall so they could sit and take a load off for a while.  

I also saw a man in a fairly nice evening gown - high heels, full chest hair and all.  He walked really well.

09 September 2012

What I am is what I am

I am still getting used to actually saying I live in NYC.  At least twice a week, I think to myself, "I really live here (either with a question mark or an exclamation, depending on what is occurring).

I am a teacher.  I love teaching people of all ages about things of all topics.

I am a friend.  But, I am really not good at keeping in regular contact with people.  Before I moved to NYC, my mother and father (in StL) reminded me that I rarely visited or called them while I lived only 15 minutes away - they told me that I had to keep in touch more regularly after I moved hundreds of miles away.  I don't like that I do it, but I am always there for people and it is always as though no time has passed.

I am a former athlete who is really struggling with the new body I have.  I don't mind having curves, but am really struggling with the lessening of muscle and the addition of fat to places I never knew it could be.  It's been over a decade since I was competitive, but for a long time after, I still had a great body.  I guess since hitting 30, my body has rejected its former self.  I know I should accept it, but I don't want to.

I am becoming more open and opinionated as I get older.  And I don't really care to hold back my thoughts all the time as I used to when I was younger.

I am a people watcher.  And this is the perfect city for me to do it - though I have to be more secretive about it on the subways... can't gaze at people for too long.

This was hard, this was my Stream of Consciousness Sunday post.  Today's prompt, "I am _____."  You can link up or read other's I Am statements by visiting Jana's Thinking Place each Sunday..  You can write on this prompt.  You can write on any other topic.  It is five minutes of free writing.

It is usually pretty cathartic.

06 September 2012

Iron teacher-chef

I somehow forgot to write about my time at the school retreat last week.

Awesome group of people who seem to truly care about the students.  They also worked at team building with the staff members.

One of the activities we did was so freaking awesome, that I had to take pictures and send them to people, and now share with you.

We did an Iron Chef competition in the PROFESSIONAL kitchen of the hotel where we stayed.

So awesome!!

We first were prepped with information of how it would work, then we had to scrub down doctor-style all the way up to the elbows.

We received chef's hats and shirts (just like on tv, though I didn't have the opportunity to write my name onto it since I didn't want to make my hands unsanitary).

We were then divided into three groups and taken to the AMAZING kitchen.

There was a large table full of proteins (shrimp, sausage, beef, pork, chicken, mussels), and another table with various fruits, veggies, side dishes, etc.  Another table had a ton of seasoning items, and there was also a 3" bin of each salt, sugar, and pepper.

My group chose me as the team leader and we started trying to decide what to make.  We decided on a shrimp appetizer of coconut shrimp (I made) and sweet and sour teriyaki shrimp.  Our main dish was a linguine with wine sauce of mussels.

We had to have a plate for the three judges and also make enough for the thirty+ teachers.

What we made was going to be dinner for the night, so it had to be good.

Here are images of my teams final dishes:

The judges didn't pick our dishes as the winner, but they did say nice things about our food.

So much fun!!

I hope to be able to work in a real kitchen again some day.  So much easier than in a home kitchen - everything you could need is right there.  Didn't hurt to have pro chefs there to help out with quick questions and to gather supplies we needed from the back rooms either.  Also didn't hurt that we didn't have to wash any of the numerous dishes we messed.

05 September 2012

Semi-Wordless Wednesday: School Critter

This morning as I rang the buzzer to get into school (I got there so early the doors were not yet unlocked and the principal was the only one there) this is what I saw:

The principal was not worried about it since these things eat other bugs.  I was freaked because it was almost as big as the palm of my hand.

This afternoon as I left the school, it was still there.

Tomorrow is the first day of class for the students.  I have had to do so much to get my room and my curriculum ready, that I have not really done much to get ready for the actual teaching... Hope all goes well!

04 September 2012

Hi, my name is _____

The assistant principal at my school told me and the other two teachers who were there setting up for school the first name of a new student.

Ms Laura*

It makes me really wonder about parenthood.  It makes me wonder about why you would name your child something like this.  It makes me kind of understand why some children have issues.

It makes me think of Janet Jackson.  Ms Jackson, if you're nasty.

It makes me wonder if I have her in my class and if I will be able to say her name each day with a straight face.

* Name has been changed to protect those who did not name themselves, but it is still Ms ______.  Including the capital letters and the space.  What?!?!?

03 September 2012

Teaching practice

One way that I am prepping to get back into teacher mode is through teaching something other than social studies.

Over the course of the past week, I have been trying to help my boyfriend learn how to use a smartphone.  He has had an ancient phone since 2000 and has questions about the phone that I had never imagined.

Going to the store with him to buy the phone was really trying on the patience.  He was so lost when it came to the features he wanted and to what the phones could do.  He also wanted to have an earpiece that only had one earplug.  I tried to explain to him that so many people use the phones for music that they don't make the ones with one ear anymore.

He didn't believe me.

He has come a long way in a week.

He actually uses the phone for some internet searches.  And is even using the Dropbox on his phone to be able to send documents right away to any work-related people.

He is still annoyed, like many of us, that the phone comes with so many apps that cannot be erased off the phone.  He worries that it is sucking up too much memory and will make his phone run slower.

It has all been a lesson to help me get back into the mode of working with people who do not understand the content and may have no prior knowledge to use to help learn, let alone master, a topic.

It has been trying, yet has brought us closer together since I don't have to be the one to look up his email on my phone when we are on the go.  LOL!!

02 September 2012

The stuff dreams are made of

I've started having the school dreams.  In the past, it has been just a few days before the start of school.  This time around it is over a week before school starts (Thursday after Labor Day).

Each time, the dreams are full of all the things I need to do and all of the teachers I have met so far.

I am excited to be starting at a new school in a new state and am glad the content is somewhat similar to some courses I have taught before.

I am also very thankful for this summer.  Not only because I made this move toward the end of the summer, but because it was, literally, the longest summer break I have ever had.  My St. Louis school ended before Memorial Day in May and I don't start here until this coming week.  It is the first time I have had a full three month break to rejuvenate.

I do feel somewhat more refreshed than I ever have in all my years of teaching, but now I have a lot to do to get ready for the new year at the new school - mapping out the curriculum for the year and posting it outside the room, creating a syllabus for each class, learning the textbook, figuring out how to use the grading system, figuring out the new email, making sure I am truly cleared to teach.  Things that I normally would have been able to do throughout the summer or even before the summer began.

I also have supplies to buy (and figure out if the school has some supplies or if I have to buy them myself).  I also have a room to decorate (a lot of the other rooms I have seen so far are super decorated - I guess in part because it is a 6-10 school and in part because they are creative).  I am not a fuzzy, glittery decorator, but I feel like I at least need to put up a sign with my name and saying welcome, or something in addition to the few posters I was able to take from the old school.

This is just a snippet of the things on my mind as I free-write for this Stream of Consciousness Sunday. You can join in or read others' posts at Jana's Thinking Place.  Just write for five minutes on the prompt she has given, or on any other topic that you just want to let out of your system.