31 December 2012

December photo-a-day: Last week

December photos I have taken during the past week using prompts given by Fat Mum Slim.

I wish you all a happy new year and safe celebrations!

December 24 - Something you always do
24. Every day, I get on a subway.  Sometimes the stations are nice like this one at 96th in Manhattan, other times they are pretty dingy.

December 25 - Lunchtime
25. Late breakfast/lunchtime meal before Christmas dinner hosted by my sister.  It was her first time hosting, and she and I cooked a good mix of food for my BF and my visiting brother.  We had roasted cauliflower, sauteed green beans and shrimp, chicken, Japanese fried rice, meatballs and spinach tortellini, kale salad, and some awesome Oreo cake.  We even FaceTimed with my two sisters and cousin in Houston.  Good times.  Good food - and I didn't even get the 'itis'!

December 26 - Mess
26. On Boxing Day, my sister, my brother, and I went to Grand Central Terminal.  It was pretty spectacular to see in the main area.  It cracked me up that everywhere we saw, my brother referenced it to at least four movies he has seen.  This was one place that I could also remember from movies and books that I have read.  Nice to see it in person.  We went to the Apple Store on the side that was super massive and, from there, I took this picture of the crowd that looks like a mess, but is really quite organized chaos as people go to their destinations.

December 27 - How you relax
27. Despite some of the not-so-good areas, mice crawling between my feet, and trash I have encountered in NYC, there are several really beautiful areas.  This is one of the ponds in Central Park.  Walked through this area for the first time with my brother and sister.  It was really peaceful, beautiful, and relaxing to see the water, not see any cars, and not see any trash.

December 28 - Cold
28. Nothing like spending a cold night sitting with people watching old episodes of Jem on Netflix.  Hilarity ensued the entire time!

December 29 - Hot
29. In all of my apartments, I have had to walk to a different floor to do laundry.  In my parent's house I rented for four years, I had to go into a nasty, unfinished, unsafe basement.  My last place (which caused me the most drama after moving out) had washer and dryer in the unit, right across from the awesome kitchen.  So much bliss.  So easy to do laundry.  So wonderful.  I read a statistic that only 30% of apartments in Manhattan have a washer and dryer in the unit.  Another reason this place is slightly backward in my opinion.  I don't have one in the building and have to take trips to the laundromat to get clean clothes.  It is actually pretty common here to have a service pick up your laundry from your place and bring it back clean for you.  I'm sure it is convenient if you have decent hours where you will be home.  I just do it myself once a week.  This day was the day.  I always wash in hot and am usually there at off-peak times.

30. Something that made you smile this year. I used a video from Christmas night from my phone, but it was so great that it still makes me smile.  This was in the Columbus Circle subway station on our way back to my sister's place.  It was so nice to see her playing the violin and hoola hooping and just being merry.  I had to give her some money.

December 31 - Self-portrait
31. Had a slight headache this morning; it felt like someone had taken a bat to my head.  I felt a self-portrait as such was appropriate.

Here are photos from the rest of my December camera adventures: Week one, week two, and week three.  I hope you enjoyed and I hope you have a wonderful new year!

30 December 2012

340-ish days of blogging

I started this year blogging each day in January.  That spilled into February, then March, then throughout the summer, all the way into August.

I missed a few days in August due to moving to NYC from St. Louis.  It felt weird to miss days of blogging.

I missed a few more days in September, and this past week, took a few days off from blogging to hang with family.

It is amazing to me that during this year, I have written more on this blog than in its entire 5 year history.

A favorite from each month:

Stream of consciousness Sunday post - extended about 10 minutes longer than the given 5-minutes.  But this reflection on a about 340-ish days of blogging was what was on my mind for the day.

You can see other bloggers who have linked up at Jana's Thinking Place and link your own 5-minute brain dump, too.  Just write for five minutes about whatever is on your mind.

28 December 2012

World Trade Center Memorial visit

I'm not a sentimental person.

Though, as I get older, the rom-coms seem to get me teary-eyed, and sometimes, I see things that bring tears to my eye that I would have just laughed at years ago.

Yesterday, I braved the cold with my brother and went to the World Trade Center site.  We opted for the guided tour and I am glad we did, despite that it was about 35 degrees, I was not dressed for the weather, and the tour took 70 minutes outside in the cold.

It was a lot of great information that I had not known about the building, the day the attacks happened back in 2001, and some of the people who were first responders.   I also learned that all the trees on the current site represent a first responder who was killed.  There are about 100-200 that are not yet planted and will be once the people finish all of the buildings in the the trade center complex.  The missing trees are growing in New Jersey so that they will all be the same height as the ones already planted when they are placed in the garden area.

I love the wall - We have only one 'A'
and we have to decide where to place it -
W_r, or Pe_ce.
There is a beautiful memorial bronze piece just outside of the makeshift museum (the real museum is not finished due to some BS arguments over money and ownership or something).

I started to cry three times after the tour when I was in the "museum" looking at the images, hearing the voices, and seeing the recovered items from the wreckage.

I think it hit me more to see the sites of the smoke and the destruction now that I am in NYC and know the area and have been down to the area where the buildings were several times.  I have sat to have lunch in front of the new building 7, I have walked past the hole before it was a beautiful waterfall memorial.  I now know that the buildings that are there now are about half the height of the old trade center buildings - so incredibly impressive, especially after I went into the Empire State Building two days ago.  The towers were taller than I was high in that current building.

It was really moving.

24 December 2012

December photo-a-day: Week 3

December photos taken during the third week of December based on prompts by Fat Mum Slim.

You can see my next installment on New Year's Eve!

December 17 - On the floor
17. Went to a sewing/art store in the Fashion District to pick up some fabric glue for the BF to fix his bag.  Saw all of this yarn, and decided that I want to make something.  Didn't buy any of it, but the idea that people can make things for themselves has always impressed me.  The BF took some sewing classes a few years back and can make clothes.  He can make actual clothes and pillows, and bags, and I don't even know what else!  Amazing!  I want to get in on that, too.

December 18 - Makes you feel merry
18. On the way back from the Tribeca Film Institute last week, I went through a train station I had not yet been through.  Throughout the station were these little creatures.  They were doing various things - some were sneaking in/out of the station, one was even taking off his head.  The two on the top were sharing a drink - they made me feel real merry inside.

December 19 - Something that begins with s (Sharing)
19. On my birthday, I was serenaded several times by students and teachers singing me happy birthday.  We took the kids to Washington Square Park for a field trip as part of the poetry week unit so the students could people watch and create stories about the people they saw and (some) talked with while there.  Before we left, the students sang very loudly to me - a bit embarrassing, but very enjoyable.  Also before we left, I experienced the bird-man.  Homey raised three or four pigeons and then set them free in the park.  Now whenever he goes to the park, they come up to him.  He shares food with them out of his own mouth.  And they have a merry old time.  Disgusting to me after my  encounters with birds, on several occasions, but, hey, to each their own.

December 20 - Weather
20. Even though the weather outside was frightful on this afternoon/evening with the cold, some people were still Occupying.  They had some Occupy Wall Street info on the side and were playing a very big game of chess in Union Square.

December 21 - Tree
21. Had to go back to Washington Square Park after Wednesday's visit.  Love the place.  Took this photo of the World Trade Center from the gap between the buildings across from the Arc de Triomphe-looking statue.  I like the way the sun shone through the tree.

December 22 - Decoration
22. This is one of the signs in one of the subways I ride.  Decoration for the holidays.  And for the drinkers.

December 23 - Joy is ___
23. Joy is going to Trader Joe's early on Sunday morning to beat the traffic, getting there, and it being mostly empty.  Joy is getting all of my groceries and not forgetting anything on my memorized list (forgot to charge phone overnight so didn't make checklist before I left).  Joy is not having to wait in the checkout line for more than three seconds.  Joy is seeing that it is ugly holiday sweater day for the workers, finding this man and him allowing me to photograph his sweatshirt full of Cabbage Patch Kid looking characters playing sports.  He said a friend mailed it to him out of the blue.

You can see my past photos from Week 1 and from Week 2.

23 December 2012

A week of telling it like it is

This past week, was great at school.

Rather than teaching traditional classes leading up to the winter break, each teacher had the opportunity to teach about anything we wanted for the entire week.  We had 14 (up to 28 if you paired with another teacher) students in our class the entire day and were able to take field trips and have guest speakers come in.  Students were placed into one of their top five choices.

Some of the options available were street art, architecture, hand-bag making, hero's journey, improvisational acting, psychology, mosaics, French lessons, my life as a museum, newspaper, dance, and insanity fitness class.

I chose to do spoken word poetry with a teaching partner - we called it "Tell it like it is!".

It was great.  We were able to show various spoken word poets from a range of topics, from a range of people with a range of ages.  We taught them about rhyme, rhythm, repetition, and lists.  We discussed misogyny and how it connects to young women and men's identity in this time period of violent, sexist hip hop.  We were able to go to the Tribeca Film Institute and view a film on this topic on Tuesday.

We regularly gave them prompts and had them grow those prompts into poems.  Another field trip was to Washington Square Park to people watch and grow what they saw into stories that could become poems.

We practiced presentation and the art of spoken word.  We demonstrated the difference between a poem and a performance piece; the students practiced and practiced and became better and better with their performances.

Our group culminated with 30-minutes of spoken word performances and a 65-page anthology of their work in the categories of identity, friendship, love, the real word, and freestyle.

Their work was great!  Their performances were great!

Some of them were really deep, some of them were comical, some of them were heartfelt.

It was a really rewarding week - though I don't think I would stretch it to more than a week.  And, I feel even more for teachers of elementary school who have the same students all day long.  Though we didn't get breaks for art, PE, music, or anything else; it was us and the kids.  All. Day. Long.

But, me and my teaching partner want to do it again next year.  I suggested a school-wide poetry slam later in the school year, and we are going to try and make that happen, too.

I have been loving this week and it was on my mind, so I didn't go off of the prompt about Christmas shopping - I don't buy gifts for anyone anymore - I like to get people things throughout the year instead of on a designated day.  This was my 5-minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post.

You can link up with Jana's Thinking Place and see other posts or share your five-minute brain dump of free writing with no editing (though I took time to link up to earlier posts on this topic from this week and add the picture).

20 December 2012

Another birthday passes

Yesterday was my birthday.

I don't make a big deal of birthdays.  I don't usually don't even remember how old I am (have to do the math from my birth year).  I don't know how old any of my siblings are until I do the math from their birth years as well.
Park where I was serenaded. Flag 1/2 mast in honor of
Connecticut madness. It was a great, crisp, day!

I had mentioned to some students a few weeks ago that it was my birthday on the 19th.  Some of them remembered and yesterday came to me and told me happy birthday.  Two sang (quite well) to me, and a group I took a field trip with to Washington Square sang to me, very loudly and embarrassingly in the park - but I loved it.  Various people came up to me throughout the day to wish me well after they heard it through the grapevine.  I had the numerous Facebook messages - many generic, some personalized.  I got calls from the family (including the parents who are away for the holidays with my grandparents - talked to them, too, which brought a tear to my ever increasingly sappy self at 5:45 in the morning).

It was good.

Today, I joked with the principals about how they had forgotten my birthday.  They sang for me and gave me cookies, pound cake, and some Hershey's, and some applesauce - which the principal remembered from the beginning of the year that I enjoyed.  A teacher gave me a shout out in the morning meeting today which led to even more well wishes.

It was great.

I went to dinner with Kid Sis #1 and ate way too much great Chinese food.  I got to play with her adorable dog, and we talked and caught up since that was the first we had seen each other since Thanksgiving even though we live in the same city.

It was awesome.

I do feel older - my joints are not the same and my skin is looking more like not-quite-mixed pancake batter more than the track-star of old.  I am starting more and more to remember my childhood in shades of gray that make it seem better than the way the youth of today live.  And I can't stay up past 10 on weekdays (that could be age, or because I have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning).  I've begun to put fruit into my cereal to make sure I get enough fruits and veggies each day and I am more cautious about my clothes not looking too young when I dress.

There are some drawbacks to getting older, but if my birthdays keep being so enjoyable, and I can work more at my joints, and the other issues aren't that big, I may not mind this aging thing too much.

Linking up for Thankful Thursday with Black Tag Diaries.

Thankful Thursdays Button

19 December 2012

Semi-wordless Wednesday: Beyond hip-hop

It is amazing all the resources in NYC.

Yesterday, some students, another teacher, and I took a field trip to the Tribeca Film Institute and got to see Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.  It is about the masculinization and increasing violence in hip hop culture and the effects that has on women (and men).  It was a thought-provoking film and opened up to a good panel discussion with the director (middle) and one of his interview subjects (right).

18 December 2012

Don't mess with my room!

I try not to complain.

I really do.  I've even written posts about my drive to complain less on this blog.

But, today, I have to complain.

All this week, I am teaching in another classroom.

Another person is teaching in my classroom.

He has left it a mess two days in a row.

Today it was really bad - cookies on the floor as though someone had stepped on them all, four puddles of some unknown liquid, piles of glitter on the floor and on the tables, chewed gum on the floor, a couple piles of pencil shavings piled in a corner, my tripod bulletin board-thing knocked to the floor.

I couldn't deal when I went back in to gather my things and assess the damage.

I was pissed.

I know I could have gone right to him and told him to come back in and clean up or at least put the chairs on the tables so the custodian could sweep up all that ish.

I know I could have gone to him and gone off.

But I didn't.

I instead went to the principal and vented for a second.

Then, I put the chairs up.  Then the custodian came in and made me laugh by saying that maybe the teacher was having a contest to see who could make the biggest mess - maybe a contest to see if they could make the highest piles of pencil shavings.

I know he has a few rough kids in his group this week, and that he may have had a hard day.

But, please have the students clean up after themselves.

I will talk with him in the morning when I am cooled off and can hopefully make him laugh while at the same time letting him know to keep my shit cleaner.

17 December 2012

December photo-a-day: Week 2

December photo challenge with prompts from Fat Mum Slim.

You can see my new pictures each Monday of December.

December 10 - Under
10. Uniqlo is my new favorite store.  Since I got rid of so many of my clothes before the move, I have restocked a few items with clothes from this store - tights, winter dresses, socks, skirt - all have a sort of Japanese feel and I love that they are kind of different than what I used to wear, yet still seem like me.  I stood under this tree as I adjusted my coat and scarf after leaving the store on this day on my way home from work - I even love to just browse.

December 11 - Sweet
11. I bought these at the drugstore.  I shouldn't have.  I am not really big on chocolate.  I know, I'm a woman and I don't live off of chocolate; sue me.  I shouldn't have bought these sweet things because I at almost the entire bag in about an hour.  My stomach started to hurt about an hour after that.  But they are still.  So.  Good.

December 12 - Hat
12. I didn't remember giving away my really cool pink winter hat from last season when I moved, but I did, and had to buy a new hat since I am outside a lot with my commutes.  I like that this one is orange. It stands out a bit in the blah colors of most winter hats.

December 13 - Lights
13. Christmas tree set up at Bryant Park next to the ice rink.  I love the blue colors!

December 14 - Green
14. Every Friday, teachers and faculty from my school go to Staples.  Staples being code for happy hour.  To say the usual place is a dive bar is speaking too highly of it.  The atmosphere just exudes college broke person's hangout.  The bathroom is so filthy that I would go to the bathroom before leaving school and then hope that I didn't have to use it during the drinking.  If I did, I usually chose to just take the 45 minute trip home rather than use the nasty bathroom that had some sort of liquid all over the floor, rarely had soap, and had stickers in the basin of the toilet. (Who put their hands in there to place it and what kind of adhesive sticks through all of the flushes?)  After a few bad experiences there this year, me and two others decided to go on a hunt for a similarly priced, cleaner place with a better bartender.  We found it and its name is a color of green.  It is so awesome, the bartender remembered my name (which isn't very common) after three hours of us being in there, and look at how clean the bathroom is.  I was so pleased with the place that I could not stop smiling.  My cheeks hurt by the end of the evening.

December 15 - Outdoors
15. On this Saturday there was Santa-Con.  It was a HUGE pub crawl for people dressed as Santa, or his elves, or reindeer, or anything remotely related to Christmas (I even saw a man in a Tigger costume - Winnie the Poo - with a Santa hat walking around.)  At first it was kind of entertaining, but then as I tried to walk and do my errands, it got more and more annoying as I kept seeing them outdoors blocking the road, reeking of alcohol and just being overly loud.

December 16 - Something I made
16. The BF is so easily pleased, and yet, so picky.  He loves meatballs, but he has not found any since his childhood that he likes.  I found these gems at Trader Joe's and he loves them with some sauce.  Simple Sunday dinner.  I had some bread from TJ's, but it tasted like a sponge and I couldn't serve it again.

You can see the photos I took during the first week of this month by clicking here.

16 December 2012

I don't want my mama, I want my Netty pot

Sunday Stream of Consciousness post.  Semi-prompt: When you're sick, even as an adult, do you still long for your mama?

When I am truly sick, I long for nothing more than medicine that puts me to sleep, some sort of tissue right by my bedside, a Netty pot, and an awesome blanket.

I don't want to be bothered by any other person, though it is nice to have someone remind me/force me to eat, drink, and see daylight.

But, I really long to be alone when I am sick.  I guess it is the part of me that doesn't want others to see me so vulnerable.

This is my shortest post for Jana's Sunday - about 2 minutes.  I guess it was welcome to think about this for a few minutes to take my mind off of other things going on in life and in society.

You can read others' posts and post your own five-minute brain-dump on Sundays by going to Jana's Thinking Place.

15 December 2012

Saturday Quote: Compassion

I missed my usual daily blogging yesterday because I was tired and really bothered by the tragic events in Connecticut.

In light of that situation, here is the Saturday Quote that I somewhat feel suits this time and this season.

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
~ Dalai Lama

13 December 2012

Happy, happy, joy, joy teaching moments

Even though I have been teaching for 9 years, I feel like I am finally out of autopilot.  I am doing new things, thinking about why I am doing them, and really pushing the students more.

I think part of that is because I am finally getting reviewed from the principals that are constructive and not just, "You are doing fine.  Keep up the good work."  The reviews I get include criticism and suggestions about what I can do to improve and what I can try to do to make it more rigorous.

Lately, I've stepped up my game even more.

I've started doing something I've never done often in all of my years of teaching.

I'm calling and emailing parents regularly.

I am calling when students are falling behind, when they are missing large projects.

But the biggest thing is, that I'm also calling and emailing when students are improving and doing things well.  It is really rewarding for the parent to hear and for me to hear the joy in the parent as they hear that their child is doing well - sometimes it is the first time they have gotten such a call.  It also leads the student to do even better in class.

Today, I made a call for a student who is really on her stuff lately.  Her friend was around when I made the call and asked if I was going to make a call to her mother, too, since she had also improved a lot.  I obliged and her mother said she was so happy to hear that there was something her daughter was doing well.

And then I walked away singing Ren & Stimpy's, "Happy, happy, joy, joy" song in my head.

12 December 2012

Semi-wordless Wednesday: Fun with statues

Every time I go to Columbus Circle, I like to go into the mall and see this statue.  Each time, without fail, there is someone posing in some obscene way with the Big Guy and his big guy for a photo.  I don't know this guy, but felt I needed to show you the Big Guy.

11 December 2012

You don't always need the whole pie

After school, I was talking with some students about Pi Day and how a teacher I used to work with would reward a student with a whole pie if they could recited the most digits of pi in the school.

A student started laughing and wouldn't tell me what the hell was so funny.  She just told me to ask another teacher about "the whole pie."

I did later today and found out about their little inside joke.

The teacher had talked with some students about some basic sex ed issues.  They were informed that intimacy is like a pizza pie - you have to ask each time what the person wants on the pie even if they usually get the same thing, you still have to ask to be sure what they want.  You also don't have to eat the whole pie (go all the way to sex).  Sometimes, you just want a slice or two and not the entire pie.

And that is ok.

10 December 2012

December photo-a-day: Week 1

December Photo-a-Day Challenge.  I'll be posting all of my photos on Mondays this month.

December 1 - 8 o'clock
1. Nothing like getting up early on a weekend to get to Target before the crowds and the madness that is this Bronx Terminal massive complex of stores.  Seriously.  It was so peaceful at 8 o'clock.  I was in and out with the quickness and didn't have to worry about bumping in to anything but all of these carts that were jutting out of the outside of the store.  I guess they were moving them in from the parking lot and didn't have enough space for all of them.

December 2 - Peace
2. I am not the type of teacher who shies away from assigning essays because of the time it takes to grade them.  But, I am the type of teacher who starts to grade them and then realizes that I am using the old scoring guide and not the new and improved easier to understand one that I made the day before.  I am the type of teacher who then has to re-grade two classes worth of essays and transfer the scores onto the new scoring guide and the different guidelines on the new scoring guide.  I am also the teacher who enjoys the peace after the grading and watching Scandal.  I just started watching this show last week.  I liked it so much that I watched the entire first season on Netflix in two days and then signed up for Hulu Plus so I could watch the new season's episodes.  I am now caught up and am amazed by each the episodes each week.

December 3 - Something you held
3. It is official.  I will be traveling with students to Greece and Italy this summer for a school excursion.  Which means on Tuesday, I held my expired passport to be sent off for renewal.  Exciting!

December 4 - Black + white
4. I don't know if it has gotten better, or if I have adjusted, or if my nose sensors have been burned out by all the horrid smells, but the corridors of the L train connection from the 1/2/3 line don't seem to smell as bad. At least not in this long section where I took this black and white photo.  I am going to assume that I have burned all the cilia and can no longer smell as well with my nose.

December 5 - Looking up
5. View of the Empire State building from W. 34 Street and 7th Ave.  Pretty nice.  I wished the lights had been one of the various colors they sometimes decorate the building with, though.

December 6 - From where you live
6. Went to a workshop at the Teachers' College at Columbia U.  One of my coworkers has been taking grad classes there and knew how to get to the dining hall for lunch.  I don't remember dorm food having awesome tilapia and roasted potatoes, or cool looking furniture and chandeliers.  But it was nice.  She said some of her classmates who are teaching still stay in the dorms since they are taking classes there.  Must be nice to have some great food ready made for you all the time.

December 7 - Stars
7. Some days when I walk through areas of NYC, I wonder, "Is this really where I live?"  This is Columbus Circle, the lights are great!  They are like stars floating in the trees.  I haven't even made it to any of the big-time Christmas areas of the city, yet.  I'm sure they are even more beautiful.

December 8 - Someone you love
8. This is a bill board posted in the city.  I'm sure there are similar ones in other cities.  It makes me sad to think that you could divorce someone you love and not even get their signature to approve of the divorce.  I guess you go, get it done, and then go to your spouse and tell him/her that you are now divorced and the person can do nothing about it.  Sad.

December 9 - Out + about
9. On Sunday, I went to a Hannukah dinner - my first.  Food was good, but more importantly, I met up with some old high school classmates for the first time since high school.  Good times.  We are going to work to develop some sort of NYC get together of the many numbers of hs grads that live in the area.  This is a picture of graffiti I saw in Brooklyn while I was out and about on my way back to the subway last night.

09 December 2012

HS super mini reunion

It's amazing how fast time flies and how much, yet how little can change in that time.

I graduated high school over a decade ago.

There are some people that have found out I am now in NYC and wanted to meet up with me.

Some of them, I have not seen since high school.

I met up with two classmates tonight for dinner and chatting, and it was really good.

We talked, caught up a bit, played with one of their children, and were just normal adults with a long ago past together.

I don't even recall if we were talked much in high school.  I know we weren't enemies, but we weren't that close.

It's great that we can still meet up.  One of the classmates and I are going to try to put together a reunion of sorts for the various classmates that are in NYC - apparently there are many.  We are shooting to get at least 15 or so together.

This was a quick end of the day stream of consciousness for Sunday.

You can see more on Jana's site.  Write your own today or some Sunday in the future and link up on her site.  It's just five minutes of whatever is on your mind.

07 December 2012

99 Problems, but this ain't one

To pay forward my gift from a teacher last week, I thought about all of the neat ideas you all offered up, as well as brainstorming some NYC related ideas and came up with something kind of clever (at least I think so).

I decided to give the Mr. an mp3 player.  On his device is playing 99 Problems - from Ice-T or Jay Z, depending which version you know (and I'm sure some younger artist has likely redone it again).

The Mr's version is about how he has 99 problems but low grades aren't one.

I gave a nice speech about a very deserving colleague who works really, really hard in addition to going to grad school full time.  Unfortunately, she was on a field trip today and didn't get to hear my speech, but was immediately called and texted to relay the message.  I also left her a voice mail and will tell her all the great things on Monday when I present her with the Potato Head.

It was a pleasure and an honor getting him for this week. And a joy to create his newest addition.

06 December 2012

I don't argue with collection agencies

I called the collection agency yesterday. 

This was after calling the apartment people on Monday.

The apartment manager could give me no information.  She claimed that she only works there some days and had to look at my file.  She said that it didn't make sense that the complex had not tried to contact me about anything I may have owed.

The collection agency was a different story all together.

The lady on the phone answered and started talking as though she was out to get someone.

I remained calm.  I had made a list/script of what I wanted to say.

Before I could get all of it out, the lady was interrupting me and telling me that I had no case; that I had broken a lease, and despite that the complex did not put in writing that I would owe something after only staying there 5 months (the lease had provisions for if you were there 7 or more months) that I "should have known that I would owe something since [I] broke the lease agreement."

I tried to inquire about a few other issues I was not clear about - why they went straight to a collection agency rather than talk with me, why none of this was in writing, where exactly the numerical value I owed came from.

But she interrupted me again and told me that the complex had every right to charge me what ever and that I was lucky they were not charging me for a full year of rent.  She said they did not have to go through any channels to contact me beside going straight to a collection agency.

At this point, I asked her to calm down since she was almost yelling at me in her harsh tone.  She said she was not getting upset.  I told her that I was speaking to her calmly and would like to calmly get answers to my questions.  I asked her to let me finish all of my questions so I was clear.  I asked her to stop interrupting me.  I let her know that I never said I did not owe the complex money, I had been willing to pay another month before I left.  I let her know that I was just trying to understand the charges and how the process worked for my case.

At that point, she seemed to calm down and stop trying to antagonize me.

She allowed me to finish my questions, answered them, and then said that if I could pay that day, she would take off a few hundred dollars off of the charge and make sure that it did not go on my credit report.

I did that.

Now I have to make sure they only take the amount of money agreed upon and that this really doesn't go onto my credit report.  I trust her company about as much as I trust a politician.

I stayed calm and patient the entire 14:33 second phone call.

Once I hung up the phone, I literally started tearing up and cried for about 2 minutes.  It was a mixture of the stress of the call and trying not to return the rudeness of that woman, the relief of being done with the situation, and the anger at having to shell out so much money after I am finally starting to build some reserves again, along with a long day of teaching.

05 December 2012

Semi-Wordless Wednesday - It takes lots of time

Yesterday after school I spent an hour and a half working on a bulletin board.

I was told that I needed to put up more content specific items.  I think it will be useful.  In the middle will be student work that is stellar, or has stellar pieces within the work.  That way I can give shout outs to kids that did some parts well even if the whole thing wasn't perfect.

But, putting it together was annoying.  Rather than plan for my classes or grade, I put together a bulletin board.  I had a little help from some students and my mentor-type person, but it still took way long.

I do like the pop of yellow on the wall

04 December 2012

I finally got him!!

After months of waiting for this to happen, it finally did.

At my school, every Friday, a teacher is awarded with a prize for doing something good that week, or for helping, or for just being great at what they do.  The presentation is done in front of all the teachers. The next week, the previous week's honoree passes the award to someone they deem worthy.

Each week, I have hoped that I had done something worthy of the prize.

Each week, I thought it was going to be me.

Each week, I left the meeting dejected and empty-handed.

This past week, I was so upset at having never received the prize that I didn't even consider that I might actually get it.

But, I did.

I received the honorable Mr. Potato Head.  I was honored for being calm, and able to hold classes without raising my voice a lot and for being able to joke/trick people with a straight face.

Now, I have a week to determine what I will add to Mr. Potato Head.  Each honoree must add something to the man.  One week, a person added an umbrella to protect him from the hurricane, another week it was a breast cancer band since it was breast cancer awareness week.  There is a world map and a jump rope since that is the grading system we use.

I am proud of the award.

And the kids seem to understand what it is for and congratulate me when they see it.

If you have ideas of what I can put on the man for when I pass it on this Friday, please leave them in the comments section.  I will let you know what I finally decide.

03 December 2012

November Photo-a-Day last pics

November Photo-a-Day Challenge.  As usual, my prompts are from Fat Mum Slim.

The last installment for November.

November 26 - In cupboard
26 - I have a lot of cabinets in the kitchen, but I don't use them.  The people who have this apartment in their possession seem to think paint is the answer to everything.  They have put so many layers of paint on the cabinets that they can neither fully open nor fully close.  The draws in are painted shut.  I use them for some items as you can see in the left picture (mainly seasonings, oil, medicines, and my four cans of food and Ramen noodles that are to help me survive when the apocalypse or a big storm happen - but the rest of the cabinets are not in use.  So, I bought a little rolling cart from Target and use it for my dishes, pots and pans, silverware, and most food items.

November 27 - Tree
27 - Window decorations at the world's largest Macy's off of 34th Street in Manhattan.

November 28 - Vehicle
28 - On this day I had to take a cab to work.  This is my view from the back seat of the cab.  The ride was pleasant enough since there is a tv built into the seat behind the front passenger seat that showed the morning headlines and the day's weather.  The views were pretty nice as you can see in my post from that day.  But the price was ridiculous!  $20 for the ride to work!!

November 29 - Big
29 - This is a picture taken from Columbus Circle.  Cool area.  I had only been there a few times just passing through and seeing the big statues in the mall there - they are male and female and naked and I had to laugh all the people who take photos of themselves holding the massive male's genitalia. I love this big metal world sculpture and also know that CNN is a big cable company.

November 30 - On the wall
30 - A guy I used to coach with was in town for the weekend.  We met up on Thursday night (so this photo is actually from the 29th, shhh, don't tell).  The hotel where he was staying had no name on the outside and the only way I thought I was there was because my phone map said so and because I saw some suitcase roller-things on the outside and some people with luggage.  The fire on the wall originally caught my attention and then I looked at my map since I didn't see a hotel name or an address on the outside of their main entrance.  Weird.

You can see my photos from the rest of November by clicking here, here, here, and here.