31 October 2012

Wordless Wednesday: I needed a laugh

I'm on my third no-school day.  I'm basically stuck in the house due to Hurricane Sandy.  I feel for all the people injured, with family members killed, without power, or whatnot.  It is horrible to think that not too far from me in this same borough and the borough where I work, there are people severely impacted by this storm's passage.

I got rid of my cable, so the tv I have is now useless since I can't watch any channels - oh, how HGTV marathons of House Hunters would soothe my ails (the cold/sickness Sandy brought me) right now.

What happened to the days when you could watch local tv without cable???

I needed some humor in my life.

30 October 2012

First-world problems

We were dealing with some real problems with Sandy on the East Coast.  I also have developed some sort of cold - I hope it is nothing more since I STILL don't have insurance from the Board of Education.

But there is still a lot of FWP going around...

29 October 2012

Storm prep

Ready for Hurricane Sandy.

I've got food, candles, batteries, a nice comfy blanket to lay under.  Hoping the power does not go out as I sit here listing to the strong wind blowing against my windows.

I made the rookie storm mistake of not getting any wine, or booze.

Lesson learned.

28 October 2012

I need to learn more

Despite being almost an old dog, there are many things that I want to learn or learn to do better.

Here is a short, five-minute list of some of the things:
  • accepting help from people who offer it and being able to ask for it when I am swamped and could use it;
  • learning another language;
  • being able to just say no when someone wants to 'trim' my hair;
  • being able to show my love and appreciation for people who are in my life in ways that are understood by them;
  • minority history in the US;
  • make my own clothes.
In the past few years, I have gotten better at a few things:
These lists were prompted by Jana's Sunday Stream of Consciousness post.  The prompt was, "What new tricks would you like to learn or have you learned?" 

26 October 2012

School supplies and drinks

Every Friday, the teachers at school go to Staples.

When the kids hear anyone talk about it, they think we are dorks.  We tell them it is because they never have supplies in class and we need to restock each week since we have to give out pens and pencils, post-its, paper, etc.

In reality, Staples is code for Friday Happy Hour.

I love it each week.

25 October 2012

Teaching, conferencing, and parenting

Parent-teacher conferences today.

Started at 1 and go until 8.  Right now, I'm starting the hour and a half break that we have so that the teachers can grab some dinner.

It is really enlightening to meet some of the parents and see how they impact their children in a good, and sometimes, not good, way.

It is also really strange now to meet parents, because they are starting to be the same age as I am.

They are the same age as me with children that are in middle and high school.

And I have not yet had any children.  It is kind of strange.

24 October 2012

October Photos: Week 3

October Photo-a-Day continues.  Prompts were selected by Fat Mum Slim - click the link to see the month's full list.

October 17 - Fruit
17. Nothing better than sweet, crisp Fuji apples.  Especially during apple season.  These, from Trader Joe's were delightful!

October 18 - Made you smile today
18. Left: my ticket when I walked into Time Warner Cable on 96th and Broadway.  Right: The number they were serving when I walked in.  You can see my estimated wait time was 37 minutes.  I was called after about 40 minutes, so they were pretty accurate.  The wait was annoying, but it all put a smile on my face because the trip will help me save money.  I was returning the cable box since I don't watch tv.  I now only have internet in the apartment.  I have honestly only watched about 4 hours of tv in the two+ months that I have been in NYC.  Very strange considering that the tv was always on and I was basically always watching something (likely stupid) when I was in St. Louis.

October 19 - Letters
19. I finally have an income! (Though it still may be 6-8 weeks before they give me credit for years I taught in MO and for having a master's degree - but don't get me started on that... I just look forward to the back pay.)  I don't have a bank here and am not sure if I will open one.  I am fine with my online bank and my StL credit union.  I mailed two checks to the credit union for deposit and they mailed me back (without me asking for it) some deposit slips and pre-addressed envelopes for if (really, when) I send them more checks.  Unfortunately, I sat on my yoga mat opening mail after I had already sent another check to them in the mail.  I'll be ready next time.

October 20 - Four o'clock
20. Weekends are for roaming the city.  There are always so many new things to see.  New York is known for the little dogs.  Also for dog walkers since people may not be able to get home early enough to let their dogs out.  Now that it is getting cooler, the dog sweaters are coming out, too.  Around four o'clock, I saw this Pet Hotel in Chelsea and had to take a picture to send to Kid Sis #1 and her new dog.  I have seen such places on tv - along with the spas and eateries for dogs, but never in person.

October 21 - Calm
21. On this Sunday, I walked around in various parts of the west and east sides of Manhattan.  On the west side, I saw this amazing building off of 42nd Street.  It had nice trees outside, but had this amazing greenery inside.  I'm not sure what the building is for, but it was beautiful to see.  I just wonder how many bugs they have in there.  It always makes me pause when I see green in the city since it cannot be found everywhere like I am used to in Missouri.  The lower picture is closer to the east side close to 28th Street.  There was this amazing aroma of flowers and plants and this really cool plant store.  I had to take a picture.  I love how you can see the rays of sun in the photo!

October 22 - In your town
22. I found this nice pizza place close to school that I can get lunch from (I love being able to leave school during lunch break and get some food, especially with so many places within two-three blocks walking distance.  I try not to do it more than once a week since the money adds up, though)  I know that in my new town, New Yorkers have some accents where they drop the Rs of their words, but I didn't think they dropped them in when they write the words, too.  This soup menu calls it New England Clam Chowde.  I'm not sure if this is a different variation or just a mistake.  It was done for both of the "chowdes" on the menu.

October 23 - The view from here

23. My four year old, super cute nephew watched some of the debate with Kid Sis #2.  As he watched and the issues were discussed, his focus was likely on the way the men talked and the way they carried themselves each time he looked up from his toys or books.  If only everyone's views were so simple.  I love that he loves the President's 'flawed' ears.  I'd like to think that this young boy is going to continue to like people despite what some consider their flaws.  I love it!

You can see photos from Week 1 and Week 2 of October by clicking those links.

23 October 2012

I still don't understand humans

I've always hated drinking milk.

I finally learned that perhaps that hate connects to my intolerance of the item.  I even wrote a letter once that explained my delimma and how I just want to be friends with dairy.  You can read my letter here.

But, I still find it hard to understand why we humans drink/eat milk from another animal way past the time when it is seen acceptable to drink human milk from a woman's breast.  No other animal does this. Why us?

Found on feed on FB

22 October 2012

Joy on 72nd Street

I left my rain boots in St. Louis.  It was raining pretty hard Friday - incessantly.

On my way home from my workshop at the Teachers' College at Columbia University I stopped on 72nd Street to go into the Crocs store to browse some of their rain boots.  I fell in love with my flats from there last year and thought I might try a pair of their boots so my feet stay dry and comfy the next time it rains.

Unfortunately, the Croc prices were not on the level I wanted to pay.  On the way back to the train, I stopped in a couple of other shoe places to look at their rain boot selection.  In the first store, despite the fact that there were three sales people working and only one other customer in the store, I got no attention.  This was even after I looked at the shoes for about 7 minutes and then held up a shoe to one of the workers to show that I was interested.  We made eye contact, then she looked away.

I left.  The prices were too high and I appreciate customer service.

In the second store, I was immediately greeted by a man who even had jokes about the leftover food box (it was actually cupcakes) that I was holding.

I stayed.  It turns out that he is trained in podiatry and asked if I had any foot problems.  I told him no.  He left to get me the boots to try on.  When he came back and helped me put them on.  He asked to look at my foot.  At first I was thinking of Charolotte from Sex and the City.

Then, I decided, that maybe he was just going to help me.

Kind of normal-looking with pants
And help me he did.

He told me that my super comfortable (most of the time) Crocs were bad for my type of arch - makes sense since there are days after Croc-wear that I wake up and my feet feel kind of funny.  He recommended different shoe types and retrieved some samples from the back for me to try on.  I walked in all the shoes he brought out and immediately noticed that I was walking differently.
Slightly prescription-orthopedic-looking with
legs showing.  Not ready to wear them with
a skirt - I'll have to try them with tights.

I was walking with more ease and my feet didn't feel like they were pronating as much as they usually do - this was due to the arch support not allowing my foot to roll inward with each step.  It was great.

I decided to wait on the (to me) overly priced (but comfy) Hunter rain boots and decided to go with the shoe that seemed to be made for my foot.  They were costly, but I decided a few years back that shoes are one area where I am willing to pay more money for comfort since I have to wear them for long hours.  Better to have quality when it comes to footwear.

He said a strap or laces are best for support, as well as a tighter, sturdier heel.  I also need more arch support since I have a medium arch (which falls with each step if I don't have support) and if the front of the shoe comes up higher on my foot, the shoe will fit my foot better since I have a slightly wider foot by where my toes join my foot, but a narrower heel.

It's amazing where I can find simple joy.  I took his card and will return to give him more business... when I have more disposable income.

21 October 2012

Me a leader???

I've stepped into the role of Social Studies Department Leader.

Yes, I am new to the school and new to the state, but since I am the person in the department with the most teaching experience and the only one with experience leading a department, I decided to accept the role.

I have done it before at a small school, but this is out of my comfort zone for a few reasons.

  1. I don't really know the curriculum.  At this point, I don't even know what is the unit after the next unit in each of my preps, let alone what the other grades are supposed to be teaching.  I am gaining a general idea, but still need to learn the basics and then delve into the details.
  2. I don't really know yet the way the people in the department teach or how they will take not only my suggestions but my sarcasm and dry wit when talking about what could be done.
  3. I don't yet know what the duties are of my position.  We are going to have a department leader retreat at the start of November when more information will be given about the position.
  4. We have already picked a focus for our department and I am already trying to help the other members figure out ways to help our students make gains.

So, it is in a way out of my comfort zone, but still something I feel comfortable doing.  I just have to get to know the people and have them get to know me so that they understand when I am being sarcastic, goofy, serious, and what not.

This is my five minute post for Stream of Consciousness Sunday.  I link up with Jana's Thinking Place.  Today's prompt: What have you done recently or would like to do that's outside your comfort zone?  You can visit her site to see others who link up and link up yourself if you like.  It is easy - five minutes of free writing on the given prompt (or whatever is on your mind), link up, read others' posts.

19 October 2012

The impact of a lightbulb?

I am going to show my true dork colors with this post.

I went to a literacy workshop at the Teachers' College at Columbia University and learned so much about how to help students read content text and to write about their learning.

The past few weeks, it has really been evident, and really annoyed me that my students often regurgitate what they read when answering a question.  When I try and make the questions something they actually have to think about, they complain that the answers are not in the book.

Yesterday, on a review sheet about the Second Industrial Revolution, I asked the students to write about different inventions.  They had to tell me what the invention did and how it would help people and the society.  Some of the students had a hard time telling me what impact the lightbulb, the engine, and the airplane had on people since the answer was not written in the book.

I had to stop the class after the third person asked me what the answer was.  We had a mini-lesson on thinking about how they use the item, what it would have been like before the item existed, and therefore the impact that invention may have had on society.

It was a real test of my patience and my desire to use sarcasm to be able to answer their questions.

The workshop man taught strategies to help students read text and actually take notes to show what they learned, not on the book.  Makes so much sense, and is what I plan to start doing with the kids on Monday.

I am such a dork that I am excited about all the strategies he taught, will review my notes several times, and may even buy his book and start to follow him on Twitter.

I'm linking up with Papa Is A Preacher's Tidbit Thursday (I'm a day late... oops).

You can click to see other linkup participants and to read her posts.

18 October 2012

Two months in

Today marks exactly two months since I have been in NYC.

Changes I have noticed:

  • I am back to my college ways of walking long ways and not thinking it is a big deal.  I remember just a few weeks before I left St. Louis when I didn't want to walk a couple blocks to get a smoothie, now I walk several blocks to get to the train each day and walk a lot to get places.  It now feels strange when I get into a car.
  • Even though I am walking a lot, I feel as though I have put on weight because of the lack of cooking home meals the first month+ that I was here as well as the yummy food I can get in the city.  I have started to cook more at home, but even with that, I feel more hungry throughout the day than I used to and end up eating more than I used to.
  • I am able to tell tourists pretty easily - before they even pull out their maps.
  • I have become a regular at the wine shop by my school.  So much so that when I walk in the clerk doesn't have to ask my name anymore.  He just reaches into the notecard file (think Dewey Decimal System) to find my name while I pull out the money to pay.
  • I have neighbors who recognize me and say hi when I walk by.
  • I don't think leaving the house before 6 is a big deal when going to work.  I like when I get there by 6:30 so I can be the first to use the ancient, slow copy machine before it gets crowded with the morning rush of teachers.
  • I was a good packer before - even became the go-to person for my boo when he traveled so that I could get everything to fit and fit well in his bag.  I now pack my bag with another bag when I go grocery or other shopping, pull out the bag from the pack and stuff both of them expertly for the trip home.
  • I take power naps on the subway to and from work.
  • I know the times when the subway will be most crowded on the way home and I know where best to enter the train to avoid the masses.
  • I feel like I have become better at my sly-style people watching so I, hopefully, don't look like it is all still amazing to me.

I thought I was really at home, but just two days ago, I got off the subway and thought to myself, "I actually live here?" I guess, it is still unbelievable in some ways.

The circumstances for moving came so quick and were so unexpected, that it sometimes feels as though I am just on vacation or something.

That is, until I have to pay the exorbitant rent at the start of the month.

17 October 2012

October Photos: Week 2

October photo-a-day challenge.  I am using the prompts from Fat Mum Slim.  I love taking the pictures and sharing them.

October 10 - Emotion
10. There is not a lot of emotion in the items, but they were gifts for my main man on his birthday Wednesday.  I love him more than I could ever imagine and he has supported me and pushed me (mentally not physically) and been an ear and comic relief through a huge part of my adult life.  I don't usually do gifts - usually I do something more heart felt like a poem, or a piece of writing that explains how I feel and what I like about him.  This time, though, he needs some new clothes and since we both are currently without decent winter clothes, he needed a new sweater.  We have been on the hunt for some Vouvray wine for years, and I found it in a wine store while walking to the subway from school and had to buy it.

October 11 - Something close-up
11. I have a strange addiction with chewing gum.  I love to chew it, but I have to get rid of it after just a few minutes because I feel it has lost its taste and I just don't want it in my mouth anymore.  So, in the course of 10-15 minutes, I may chew three different pieces of gum.  I know - strange, right?  I really need to stop this.  Here is a close up of the box of Orbit I am currently on.

October 12 - On the table
12. This is what my table looked like at 5:20 Friday morning. (The only piece of furniture in my living room - still no couch, yet)  I had wanted to finish the big stack of grading that is on the right side of the picture the night before.  I had all of my colored pens ready, and my scoring guides set, but I only finished about three assignments as you can see on the left.  Too tired.  After going to bed earlier than normal, I then started to try to finish some before work, but since I only allot enough time for me to do a bit of stretching, eat, clean up, get dressed, and leave, there was really no time to do much more grading.  So, I repacked the papers and took them to school Friday where I did not finish grading them due to post-observation conference with the principals during my prep hour and doing some planning for the next week after school.  The stack returned to the table for the weekend.

October 13 - Landscape
13. I love that this skate park is right in the middle of the city landscape of the Bronx.  It is actually almost across from Yankee Stadium.  I love hearing the wheels of all the skateboarders trying out there moves.  I am often distracted during my walk when I hear the sound of someone falling and have to turn to see if the person is ok.

October 14 - Makes you laugh
14. These briefs were being sold in Target.  They were in the regular underwear section and not in the Halloween costume section.  So, these underwear with a cape velcroed to the elastic waistband are normal?  I'm not sure, but I couldn't help but bust out laughing at the idea and at the image of someone wearing them.  Oh, and the sizes were in men's sizes, not children's.

October 15 - Dinner
15. Scene left: Line waiting to get inside to Trader Joe's around 6pm.  I guess I'm not the only person in Upper Manhattan that understands that they have good, fresh, cheap food that is hard to find in the rest of the city.  We literally had to wait in line outside and only could go in after some people left the inside since the numbers were so high inside that it was at capacity.  Scene right: Worker at TJ's who stands to direct people to the end of the checkout line.  Yes, it is that crazy inside.  The store is two stories (three if you count that you enter a floor above the actual store.  The checkout floor had a line that was along two full walls of the store.  He has to stand there so you can see where the end is.  Fortunately, there were at least 30 registers open and the line only took me 15 minutes to get through.  I also was able to taste the stores pretty tasty pumpkin cheesecake while I waited.  All this to get food for dinners this week.  I admit that this photo was taken on Sunday the 14th, but the lady at the checkout said that it gets really crazy on Sunday and Monday evenings and I ate dinner on the 15th that I had bought on while waiting in that long-ass line.

October 16 - Something you wrote

16. This is a pros and cons list that I wrote.  New school teacher asked me to join her to chaperone an overseas trip the week after school dismisses in June.  I don't know why I am still acting like I am debating whether or not I want to go to the two beautiful Euro countries.  For.  Free.

You can see week one photo-a-day post here.

16 October 2012

Getting ready for college

The school where I work is really college-focused.  I love it.

Yesterday the tenth graders went to a college fair most of the day.  Tomorrow the 10th graders will take their first PSAT (please don't get me started on my hatred of standardized tests and my hatred for the whole college ranking system).

In an effort to boost their moral and get them amped for the test, the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders each wrote a note of encouragement that was taped to a tenth graders locker this morning for them to read today and then tomorrow morning before the administering of the tests.

This morning, there was so much joy and appreciation on the faces of the tenth-graders.  To my annoyance and delight both, the tenth graders continued to read them sporadically throughout the day.

It was great.

15 October 2012


At the new job, I don't do much for fun on the internet.  At the other teaching jobs, I would check email, look at Yahoo's homepage, and surf Google Reader during my preps.

This year, I don't feel like I have time to do anything during my preps.  I don't have a desire to be on the net just messing around during the day.  

Today, when I got to school and the internet in the building was not working, at first, I was not really too concerned.  I was thinking that I wouldn't really need it in the morning and that it would be fixed soon enough.  I guess I have been spoiled by the other work places that actually give a shit about having internet working in a school - that and that the other places had technology people and an internal server in their buildings.  

No such luck here.

It was down all day and they don't even know if it will be back up tomorrow.

There went my plans for copying (which, I'm still trying to figure out why they don't have remote printing so I don't have to email myself a document and then go to a computer in the office to print it to make copies for students), my plans for putting grades into the system since the marking period ends next Tuesday, and my plans to email my social studies mentor-type person about our meeting tomorrow.


But I was fortunately able to get some work done that did not require the internet.

I need to add a printer to my list of things to buy for the apartment.  Or maybe ship my old one from StL.

It is amazing how much we we require technology now even though not too long ago it was not a necessity.

14 October 2012

I'm just satisfactory

I had my first principal observation on Tuesday of this week.  Had the post-ob conference on Friday.  I thought it went pretty good in class - of course there were things that could have been better, but it just happened that the two principals wanted to come in on Tuesday - the day I was teaching one of my favorite lessons.  I'm not one to change my plans just because I'm being observed.

I did do a few new things in the class that the principal suggested during our pre-ob conference, though.  They worked well and are things I plan to incorporate into my regular teaching.

The post-ob did not go as well as I would want.  They had a lot of good things to say, but also a lot of suggestions.  Looking at my notes from the meeting, they are all small things, some that only relate to that lesson when I redo it next year, but it was still a little bit disheartening.

I got a satisfactory rating.

Yesterday, I was still thinking about that rating so I had to email the principal to find out the heirarchy and what the upper levels above satisfactory are - to me, satisfactory is just not good.

Turns out that the only options in the city system are satisfactory or unsatisfactory.  That cheered me up a bit.  But I asked for more feedback from the head principal and she gave me a chart that she prefers and that shows more of a gradient for various areas of teaching and planning.  Using my own judgement, I am pretty high in some areas and only need to work more on a couple of things with regard to making sure my questioning includes more students in each class period and that my questions always include higher order thinking questions.

I feel better about my teaching after looking at those.

I don't want to just be satisfactory.

Today at Jana's Thinking Place Stream of Consciousness Sunday there was no prompt - it was free write day.  You can link up or see other's free thoughts on her site.

It's just five minutes of writing whatever is on your mind.

11 October 2012

I can tell a lie

One of the prompts for this month's NaBloPoMo was, "How good are you at telling a lie?"

I'm damn good.

I have a face that can tell people anything and because I can hold my affect constant, people cannot tell whether I am telling the truth or not.

Just  the other day, a colleague asked me if I wanted to join her for an activity that was a pretty exciting venture.  When I told her yes, she wasn't sure if I was saying yes because I wanted to really do the activity or because I felt cornered into doing it.  I had to convince her that I was genuine.

A few years back, I convinced a class of students that my first name was actually spelled something like this: 90.7sqwvsoind.  I was able to get them to believe that my parents were hippy-ish and named me that because they wanted me to remember their favorite radio station call numbers.

Even during the years when colleagues who did not know me thought I was a high school student, I was able to convince students that I was actually 54.  I had them believing that healthy eating, Dove soap, and regular exercise were the keys to good, smooth skin.

Besides these things, I can convince people that I am doing fine when my mind is actually in turmoil.

The day after my horrible hair cut, I convinced the people at work that I liked it and actually believed their compliments (which came moments after the shocked questioning of why I cut all my hair off).

I just have that way about me.

I should have gone into acting.

I've been told that on many occasions and wish I had pursued it in my younger years.

But, I guess, with teaching, I get to perform each day, too.  I get to convince the kids about the history stories  they learn, I get to try and convince them that the break up with their sig-oth is not the end of the world.  I get to help them become enthusiastic about the basic things we do in class - even when I think they are mundane.  Just the other day, I was able to get the kids to create a rap song (beat included) that is basically just reciting what they are to do a the start of class.

Today, I'm joining a link-up with Papa is a Preacher.

10 October 2012

October Photos: Week 1

During this month of writing, I've decided to go back to the photo-a-day posts once a week.

Here is the first installation of October.  The prompts are from Fat Mum Slim and are in the caption of each image.

October 1 - Where you stood.
1. On this day, I got to listen to the brilliant vocabulary, awesome stories, and wise fashion advise of Tim Gunn.  Me and the group of teacher friends I went with were giddy the entire time.  I sat with a smile pasted to my face and wished I had taken notes on some of his quotes and stories.  We stood in line for about 40+ minutes waiting to get a signature "Make it work" in each of our books and to get a photo with him after he told us to "gather round."  Click the links above to learn more about what I gained from Tim's talk.

October 2 - Lunchtime
2. Lunch this day was pretty unremarkable.  Leftover pulled pork, edamame, broccoli, water, and a rice crispy treat.  I almost forgot to photograph it, so had to pull them back out later for a photo.  Due to my tardiness all you see is my empty glass container, the water bottle and my favorite lunch sack - gifted to me from the BF.

October  3 - This happened today.
3. When I was in St. Louis, I frequented I Love Mr. Sushi in Olivette so much that the people there knew me, a bit about my life and schedule, and knew my usual roll orders.  One of the women who worked there used to give me a couple pieces of candy each visit as I left.  After trying them the first couple times, I began to hope with each visit that I would not be offered any more of that "candy".  They do say that people in different nations have different taste preferences and mine do not match those of the Japanese candy-eaters - perhaps if it did not give the appearance of sweet candy, I could like it more.  The candy was not sweet and had a taste I am not adjusted to.  In school on this day, someone left out a bag of Japanese candies.  I decided to taste one just to see if Mr. Sushi was the only one that had candy with no sweet taste.  Despite the claim that this candy is "intoxicated with romantic feelings," I did not enjoy it.  It did not taste like USA watermelons.  It was better than Mr. Sushi and had a taste with more of an evaporated milk flavor and a texture kind of like those big bubble gums of my childhood that had the pink and blue and yellow wrappers.

October 4 - What you read
4. I don't normally pick up the papers from the people who hand them out in the subway areas.  At first, I used to read on the train, but I find I like my morning commute to be chill and to just sit and relax (sometimes with my eyes closed) getting ready for the day or just people watching.  I had to get this one when I changed trains because I saw someone reading it and saw this article inside.  Seriously?!  I guess I have heard of beer runs and people who like to imbibe after races because it goes straight to through and gives them a better buzz, but this is pretty extreme, no?

October 5 - Shadow
5. If you have not read my views on the sport of baseball and how I react to the idea of it, please take some time to read my thoughts and perhaps you will understand how it really took a lot for me to stand and take this photo.  Fortunately, the nicely patterned ground took my mind off of what I was actually photographing.  This is the home of the NY Yankees.  Nothing too remarkable - it is nestled in the middle of a fairly run down area - though it wins points for being really close to a Target with a grocery store (though this one does not sell wine like the ones in StL).  There is an open ball field as well as some soccer fields and (I think) a walking or running track just outside of the professional stadium.  While the little people dream the almost impossible dream of becoming a professional baller, they are in the shadow of people who actually made that dream come true.

October 6 - I'm thankful for...
6. I'm thankful for not being as crazy as David Blaine.  I went to Pier 54 on the Hudson River on this Saturday to check out his latest stunt.  He was to stand on a 20' platform at the Pier for three days while wearing a metal suit while having 1 million volts of electricity surge into him from those giant silver orbs for three days and nights.  I have loved him and his tricks for years and it was great to see him in person - though from far away.  I'm still waiting for the day I'm walking through the streets of NYC and he makes a card I picked appear in my shoe or on the other side of a glass window.

October 7 - Light
7. Growing up, I always pictured NYC with sneakers strewn across telephone wires.  I never understood (and still don't understand) the point of doing this, but I find it fascinating.  Does anyone ever get them down?  Does the person who throws them own the shoes?  If so, does s/he have on another pair and then throw these, or does the owner leave barefoot?  Is the thrower a bully who throws another person's shoes up?  How long have these been up there?  The light was not very good when I came across these three pairs of shoes in Brooklyn, but I had to take a photo since it was the first time seeing the iconic imagery.

8. I saw a bit of the High Line in the West Village from the ground when I went to see David Blaine.  I had to go back and see more of it.  I had heard about it on some tv show years ago and had forgotten about it until Kid Sis #1 said she went to it.  I loved it.  It was an oasis of calm and greenery in the middle of a city where, from most angles, it is normal not to see extensive bits of green - sometimes for days and days.  It is built on an old railroad track bridge and is just really cool to experience.  There is one bridge (right bottom photo) where you can even sit on top of the street and the glass looks out into the street.

October 9 - Red
9. I haven't really missed my car that much since being here in NYC.  The only times are when I am carrying a lot of stuff back home from Target, but even with that, I am great at packing my backpack and another bag with stuff so my items are easily carried and I can get a taxi (hopefully, s/he will know how to get to where I am going, though) if there are larger items, which is super rare.  But, occasionally, I do see a Mini Cooper that reminds me of my car I have left at Kid Sis #3's garage.  I love that car and hope to be able to get a ticket for Thanksgiving so that I may drive around again.  This red one was (as they all are) super cute!  Be sure to note the ubiquitous black, old, used, gum stuck to the sidewalk and streets of the nation's dirtiest city.

09 October 2012

Headaches and hair

It's Tuesday.

It's dreary.  It's colder than I have suitable clothes for, and I have a headache.  Only thing worse will be if it starts to rain on me on the walk to the train and then to the apartment.

But, I will put on a mask and make people think I am ok as I head home to try and figure out what to do with my hair.  Looking in the mirror for two hours last night did not produce any ideas for improvement.

Luckily, people at school were really nice and said nothing mean about me.

I actually started to wonder about their sanity as I was actually complimented during each period and before school by students and teachers.  I guess people are really nicer than I tend to imagine.

08 October 2012

I could be Arnold's sister

Went today to the barber to get my afro cleaned up.

Since I took out my twist-braids, it's been really uneven and needed to be evened out.

I should have known not to do it this way.

I have not had anyone beside myself or my boyfriend trim or cut my hair in over 12 years.  I know that when I go and pay to have someone else do it, it will not look the way I want it to look.  Or they will interpret trim to mean several inches.  Even when the BF did it, he often would cut more than I wanted.

So, what made me think this time would be different?

I guess I thought that since it was a barber - a man - he might be more used to cutting afros.
Image source

I guess I thought wrong.

I left out of there thinking it looked ok until I got a better look in car as I walked to get on the train to the grocery store.  I had a flat top.
Afros should not have flat tops!

They should be round.  I didn't get to get a better look until I got home and realized just how bad it was.  The top is significantly shorter than the sides, so much so that I look like I could be Hey Arnold's sister.  I look like my head is shaped like a football.

It is so short on top that I am not sure if I can put my twists in and then rock a twist out.

I should have known better than to trust a man to cut my afro when all the customers inside were getting fades and low cut styles.

Back to square one of growth.  Next time, I go to someone who regularly cuts afros... or I go back to doing it myself.

07 October 2012

Oats, sweats, and arms

In an effort to not buy a box of cereal and eat the whole thing in two-three sittings, I started eating oatmeal for breakfast and continued that for about 2 and a half years - only stopped after I moved to NYC and didn't have a kitchen suitable to cooking.  Now that I have counter space and it is clean(er - almost to my standards) I may go back to the oatmeal mixed with granola breakfast.

That is one of the things that make me feel cozy in the mornings - even in the warm summer months.

Another thing is my college track and field sweatshirt.  I love it and need to bring it back from StL when if I can get back there for Thanksgiving.  When I told the track crew my size, I was still in my oversized clothing phase, so, despite my growth since those years, it is still huge on me.  I must have really looked crazy when I was in school, much smaller and swimming in that sweatshirt.

Coziness is also the feeling of being in my BFs arms.  It just feels right and safe - even though I know that there is so much craziness going on around me.

This is my Sunday Stream of Consciousness with Jana's prompt, "What makes you feel cozy and safe?"  You can see others' posts and join in at her site, Jana's Thinking Place.

05 October 2012

Pinning emotions

As I have gotten older, I have become more emotional about almost anything.  Today, we saw a video about the network of schools I work for and I almost teared up.  (Fortunately, I had watched it prior to the public showing and actually shed several tears, so I was prepared to hold them in this time.)

The school does a pinning ceremony where they "officially" welcome each child into their new grade at the start of each school year.  Today was the day for that.

I pinned the students in my Advisory (kind of like homeroom), hugged the ones that asked for a hug and then went to the back of the auditorium to find one of my other advisees.

She has been in in-school suspension the last two days and was not allowed to be a part of the pinning ceremony with the other girls.

When I went to the back row of the auditorium, I pinned her and told her welcome to the 8th grade and that she is going to be like a butterfly just like the pin on her lapel.

I didn't think too much of it, but later today, the Dean of Students came to me to tell me that the girl was so excited and proud that I had sought her out even though she was in the back of the auditorium and pinned her.

When the Dean told me this, I almost cried.  Of course, I had to wear the mask of calmness and not let her know that it was touching me so, but I did tell her that I was really proud of the student and thankful that she shared that story with me.

I think about it now and how proud she was and how I want her to feel proud of herself so that she stops starting trouble that it makes me almost teary-eyed even writing this.

Being a teacher has some really great moments.

04 October 2012

I've become a (slightly) terrified teacher

When I saw Tim Gunn the other night, one of the things he talked about was how he was offered a really great job with a company after he had started Project Runway and after he had already been on the administrative board with Parsons.

He told the man offering him the job that he couldn't take it because he was too busy with the show and with the release of his first book.  The man offering him the job said that he could keep the job open for him for after the show ends and after he is settled down a bit.

At that point, Gunn had to admit to the man that the real reason he could not take the job was because he was absolutely terrified of taking on the role.

The man told him that he would not be offering him the job if he was not going to be terrified.

Gunn went on to talk about how he is still slightly terrified at his jobs and when he does various things in his life.

If you had asked me a couple years ago - really, even last year - if there were moments when I teach that I am terrified, I would say, "Hell, no!"
My classroom.
I finally have windows (4 big ones)
and they are bigger than 8" wide!!

But when he talked about this, I realized that there have been moments this school year when I have been standing in the hall during passing time and been a bit nervous about the coming class, about what I was going to be doing and if it would work.

I have never experienced this.

As I sat smiling as I listened to the great words of Tim Gunn (he said he was "ebullient"- how cool is his vocabulary?!), I mulled over why I am nervous this year of my teaching.

It is partly because I am teaching in a new state, partly because I am teaching in a school unlike any I have been in, partly because I am teaching the first group in the school that will take a state exam in social studies, and mostly because I am really challenging myself because of these things.

I have never spent so much time prepping for classes - even in my first year of teaching.  I have never felt like I really understood and could make the students understand what they are doing and why.

I have always been able to help students understand content - even had many each year tell me that my class is the first time they have passed social studies/history.  But this is different.

All this, and still make sure the delivery of content is interesting and not just me talking at the students.  I am really trying to make sure that everything is purposeful and that everything is working toward the mastery of standards and content.  

And that is a bit terrifying.  

After almost a decade of teaching, it is ok for me to be a little nervous about my lessons and for me to work really hard on lessons. 

I am still getting better. 

03 October 2012

When you look good, they pay good?

I'm still really stoked that I got to see, meet, and take pictures with Tim Gunn.  He was really amazing.

One of the things he talked about that really resonated with me was his talk on being in NYC.  He moved here from DC in the early 80s.  He talked about how he got used to the way people dress and now can walk down the streets seeing everything, yet seeing nothing at the same time.

Gunn mentioned that he does not like telling people what to wear and what not to wear because he does not know their life situation - what they do, where they work, what they are comfortable in, what they are not comfortable in, how they move around, etc.  I thought that was an awesome thing to say.  I hate when people talk about an "it" piece because there is no piece that works for everyone's life.

He also said that you may see someone dressed like a circus clown, because maybe they are a circus clown!  He was so matter of fact with that statement that it really stuck with me.

We don't know what others are doing or going through, so we shouldn't judge their appearances.

He went on for a while about how people in NYC are able to wear what they want - you can hide in the city or you can be yourself no matter what that is.

This is so true.  In the short month plus since I have been here, I have already found items of clothing that I have seen others in that are totally me - that I would buy if and when I finally have some disposable income.
Took this shot one day alone on the subway.
Some days I just want to blend in when it is crowded,
other days I want to stand out.

There are times when I purposely try to stand out in the crowds as I walk - maybe a statement piece of jewelry, my hair done in a wild-natural manner, a loud pair of tights, etc.  Other times, I just want to walk to the train without someone asking me questions or commenting on how they think I look like I should model, or that they love my hair, or that they like my athletic (really? not much anymore) build.

On those days, my walk is slightly different, less confident strutting and more just walking.  I just want to blend in with the crowd.

I always want to look good, though.

I don't like Deion Sanders, the football player, but I heard him say something that has stuck in my head.
When you look good,
you feel good,
when you feel good,
you play good,
when you play good,
they pay good.
My pay is not based on how I play (teach, or do whatever), but I do find that on days when I dress better, I feel better.  Yesterday, I knew that it was going to be a tough day since I was tired from a late night with Tim Gunn, so I pulled out a cute outfit for work.  I felt better just putting it on.

When I look good (or at least feel like I look good), I feel good.  I love dressing in ways that make me feel confident.

02 October 2012

Last night, I made it work

Ordinarily, I am pretty good at keeping a straight face.

Last night was a very big exception.

Last night... I heard, saw, met, briefly spoke with Tim Gunn.

He is such an amazing person!

I cannot even begin to express my awe for this man.  I think he is super cute and love how he tells people to "make it work" on Project Runway.  I love how he helps the cast members without putting them down, I love how he is just at peace with himself.

Last night, I was so giddy to hear him speak at the 92nd Street Y that I was literally smiling the entire time he was talking with Bud Mishkin.

I couldn't stop.

I love his large vocabulary (which makes me want to get a thesaurus and learn at least a new word each month - if not more).  I love that he said that he is "a sycophant of the written word," - that he says he gets emotional just thinking of different passages from some of his favorite books.  I love that when the group of lady teacher-colleagues I was with and I met him he talked about how he is kind of ashamed of having Webster's Dictionary downloaded (since it is not the best of the best of dictionaries), and that he is afraid to look at the 800+ words that have been added to the dictionary.

I love that he wrote a detailed book on the history of fashion items in your closet.  I read through a lot of the sections and love his comedic sense.

He told stories of Project Runway and judge deliberations, of his disgust that Mondo did not win his season.  He told stories of his father, of his mother, of his time at Woodstock, of where he got the suit he was wearing.  He was friendly the entire time... even as we were getting our books signed after 11.

I love that we both have a hate for capri pants.  They are so unattractive on most women (and men) that wear them.  He goes into detail about them in the book, too.  It is hilarious and they are hideous!

It was a late night - didn't get home until after 11:30 - but well worth the lack of sleep for the night.

01 October 2012

I wear the mask that grins and lies

Even though I am busy, I have decided to put myself back into the blogging every day mode.  I made it all the way into the last part of August doing so and have dropped off since then only posting a few times a week.

To help me, I have signed up for NaBloPoMo October.  The theme for the month is masks and today's prompt was, "When you saw the word mask, was your first interpretation protection, covering up, persona, or performance?"

When I hear the word mask I always think of the Paul Laurence Dunbar poem, "We Wear the mask".

The poem was published in the late 1800s by him (an African American - or Negro as I think we were called at the time).  It is all about the struggles of people and how they tend to hide them from others.  I first read it back in high school and have loved it and really felt it since then at various points in my life and during different situations.

We Wear the MaskWe wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, --
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties. 
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
        We wear the mask. 
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
        We wear the mask!
I love it!

That is what I do on so many occasions - hide what is really going on and put on a happy, or just a straight face that others can't read.

All this to say that my first impression after reading the theme for the month of October with BlogHer was hiding imperfections, protecting the image (I think) I have in the eyes of others, and making sure I always seem in control of situations.

It's Monday

Typical in some form...