You know what is not fun? Getting tested for tuberculosis at 8 in the G.D. morning! (They said it wouldn’t hurt but it totally did).
Anyway, I’ve been spending hours trucking around visiting some of the most amazing houses money can by, (and even peeking into the lives of the most elite, wealthy, privileged few who roam the earth). Panoramic views of Lake Washington? No sweat. Gardens, lawns, and flowers with nary a weed or an irregular piece of grass? You can count on it. Expansive playrooms the size of my house? Yes. Full on playground sets with swings, ropes, and ladders? Old news, man. The most gigantic, enormous, larger than life diamond wedding sets and right hand diamond rings? OH MY GOD, I tried not to stare as their left hands clunked and shifted with the weight of their rocks. I’ve seen things you can only imagine.
OK, ok, so money can’t necessarily guarantee happiness–but it sure makes it a lot easier. Ok, yeah, I’m envious, (she says sheepishly), there’s no way I’ll be walking the grounds while waiting for my hydroplane anytime soon….not on a teacher’s salary. I’m solid middle class, through and through…and most of these folks were probably born with gold imbedded in their fingernails.
I’m tired in a way that I’ve never experienced…well, maybe the morning 6am shift at Starbucks is a close comparison to how tired I feel…only back then I could take a nap after work. These nine hour days are starting to gnaw at me a little bit. Luckily, I’m with good people, I’m eating well, and trying to continue my backyard yoga.
Tue 30 Aug 2005
You know what is not fun? Getting tested for tuberculosis at 8 in the G.D. morning! (They said it wouldn’t hurt but it totally did).
Sun 28 Aug 2005
Sam came rolling up on Friday evening armed with a Birthday gift of a Sake service and bottle of Sake. Josh and I were grossly captivated by the movie Fame, so Sammy’s arrival was a welcome change. We headed off to St. Clouds for slightly inadequate Predators and good music. I was so tired I faded in and out of consciousness at the table, drinking nothing but water. (Previously, Josh had put together the failed Puppet Theater in my classroom, a task that led us to be the last to leave the school at 5pm).
Saturday night we tried out the waterfront BBQ joint, Sho Is Good, at Madrona Beach:
While waiting for our food, Sam aggressively offered us chips.
The food was sticky, tasty, and mealy. The meat was not void of fat, the collard greens were salty, and the potato salad was blatantly made from real mayonnaise. The sauce was pretty good, nothing to write home about, but it was spicy and generously portioned. Sammy had some pretty terrific mac and cheese and creamed corn. The service was real down home, the portions huge, and the view of Lake Washington eased us into some serious gorging. All in all, it was a good eating experience. We topped off the dinner with cupcakes from our favorite Cupcake Royale…a tradition Sam insists on following every time he visits.
We put Josh’s remote control boat in the water until its batteries shorted out. Here I am enjoying the evening, (yeah I cut off all my hair):
A late night Ikea trip rounded out the evening nicely. Granted it took us 45 minutes to get there because we can never, ever, find Ikea easily or hit the I-5 exit correctly after one wrong turn. The place rules, but even more so when it’s not crowded. We wandered the aisles, pausing to sit in various chairs and admire random light fixtures. I came armed with all these dimensions of art work I’ve been meaning to have framed. Since Gina is a painting major, I’m always ransacking her basement for left over artwork that isn’t in a gallery, displayed in her home, or turned into the school’s collection. I found that, despite my careful measuring, it’s really hard to find frames for random paintings ripped out of journals or irregular pieces of watercolor paper. We only walked out with two frames, and only one of them actually fit. Ah, well..just another excuse to return to Ikea. Hopefully with Kris, who surprised us with a visit (and the keys to his car!) this weekend while perusing his new pad upstairs.
Sunday we tried going to a bakery (it was closed), hit up Trader Joe’s, and our favorite Capitol Hill Farmer’s Market. This time when we went to our favorite farm tent, one of the farmers recognized us. After overhearing my gringo ass talk about making salsa he presented us with an excellent grilled salsa recipe complete with free ingredients from his stand! Check out Josh’s blog for the salsa recipe (complete with pictures!)
Thu 25 Aug 2005
What have I been doing during these hellacious days of preparing for the start of school?
1) Watched two videos and endured several hours of info regarding Blood Born Pathogens and Hazardous Waste. (In short: We are no longer aloud to have Simple Green because it is toxic, regardless of what the bottle claims…and never lick blood).
2) Sat through hours and hours of curriculum planning, which I have found to loathe. I can’t wrap my mind around any exciting lesson plans when my classroom is filled to the ceiling with boxes and furniture is scattered throughout the room.
3) The entire school’s staff introduced themselves one by one which resulted in a very long morning.
4) We are currently in the process of visiting each child’s home. This involves driving all over Seattle, getting lost, knocking on stranger’s doors and meeting kids in the privacy of their decadent homes. If we are lucky the parents are kind, the child welcomes us, and food is provided. We are unlucky if the parent is disgruntled, the child hides from us, and the younger sibling is screaming because he doesn’t have a teacher yet.
5) I found myself struggling to put together a puppet theater for my classroom. This was a noble project because my mentor has had the theater in a box for two years untouched because of her dislike of assembly. I put together a bed frame and a few particle board shelves so I assumed I could figure it out. I cheerfully screwed four 2″ nails into the wrong holes before I realized I was supposed to have used 1.5″ nails. Than I noticed I couldn’t undo my work because I had inadvertently stripped the screws. Now the World’s Most Dangerous Puppet Theater is leaning against my classroom wall, precariously balanced on its poorly nailed feet, swaying at the slightest breeze. I felt so bad, I’m coming back on Saturday with Josh armed with a power drill and more screws to undo my damage.
6) I am thrilled that the school feeds us on extra long training days. Why just this afternoon I ingested salmon, asparagus, and potato salad which I wasn’t necessarily hungry for but it was free and I love seafood.
7) To reward our hard work and encourage team building the entire staff went bowling on Tuesday. I was deliriously tired, but when I spotted the funky shoes and was given a special school bowling shirt with my name embroidered on it, I went crazy. During the second game, I was gutter-balling so regularly I started goofing off. While hefting a fifteen pound bowling ball down the lane I hurt my back. Then, instead of cooling off, I hurled a fourteen pounder down the lane before retiring officially due to injury. To top it off I got carsick on the school bus ride back to the school. Bleh.
My bus ride is becoming questionable. It’s fine in the morning, fast and efficient, and the six block hike from home to the bus stop and than the additional six blocks from the bus stop to the school seem like a refreshing work out. The ride home is another matter. I do not like waiting for twenty minutes after a nine hour day in 80 degree weather while sitting in a bus shelter that smells like pee. I catch the bus on 50th and 15th right around the corner from a methadone clinic, a soup kitchen, and a food bank…which attracts a sort of rough and tumble clientele. I walked by six handcuffed and sitting on the curb gentlemen of all ages and ethnicities the other day, surrounded by several undercover cops writing out reports on the hoods of their undercover cars. I can only assume it was some terrific drug deal gone wrong…and speaking of drugs a crazy man smoked crack cocaine out of a pipe right in front of me the other day. I was wrong when I thought druggies didn’t get up early, it was a sunny, beautiful morning around 8:30am and I was waiting on the corner of 23rd and Cherry for the #48. I was so shocked by his brazen drug use that I wasn’t even fazed when he stood in the middle of the street and screamed at cars that swerved to avoid hitting him. It was an awkward moment. He politely offered me a hit and when I declined he offered me some weed as another option. I told him “No thanks, Iâ€™m going to work right now.” Luckily, the bus driver didn’t let him on the bus, and when I confessed to the driver my anxiety he told me to file a report to metro…which I did.
9) Tomorrow I’m sitting through 8 hours of CPR training…and than hurray for the weekend!
Sun 21 Aug 2005
This weekend we ended the dreaded Math Workshop and ran around and had a good time. We ended up spending a lot of time in Bellevue, for some strange reason. I had no idea how ritzy that community is, good lord! BMWs and Lexus’ everywhere, it was kind of ridiculous. We went to Bellevue Mall and I didn’t see a single crazy person…not one, just immaculate people and their adorable children. We ate at Chang’s; I was so freezing inside the restaurant Josh gave me the shirt off his back! What a guy!
Today we headed over to Seattle Center for Festa Basil…we were deeply disappointed. Josh lived in Brazil for a few years and I thought it might get him reminiscing and perhaps motivate him to take me on a foreign excursion. The festival was about four booths, a music stage, and two panels of artwork inside the plaza. No food! What? How can you have an ethnic festival with no freaking food? The best part was Josh overheard two guys in Portuguese making fun of a Kapueta participant lifelessly beating on a drum and looking bored…the Kapueta was really the only thing drawing a crowd other than the steel drum band. We would have been ok with the measly booths filled with cheap jewelry had there been at least one food venue. I mean, I know the Brazilian population in Seattle is slim, but c’mon.
We distracted ourselves by loitering around the Sci-Fi Museum’s lobby. We just didn’t feel like paying the money to wander a museum on such a sunny day. I really dug the bathroom sign:
Four years ago, we had EMP passes and the two of us would spend hours hanging out in the museum. Gone are the days of leisurely playing in the music room or admiring the rare collection of Hendrix guitars. Nothing much seems to have changed at EMP other than a pretty cool gift shop. The red hoodie with a pic of Hendrix with flames coming out of his afro was pretty cool….but I couldn’t imagine wearing it. They also have a t-shirt squeezed down and packaged into a guitar shape. Anyway, in honor of Ryan, (who can’t keep his hands off inanimate objects) I couldn’t let this robot man get by without a friendly squeeze:
Fri 19 Aug 2005
Got on the bus, purposely wore a dress because I knew it was going to be a hot day, the traffic was terrible and the bus wasn’t moving much. Guy in the seat across from the aisle said, “Is that an mp3 player your using?” It took me a second, (is it an mp3 player? I think so…) “Yes, it is…” “Wow,” He admired. “It’s really small, that must be nice.” “Yeah,” I agreed. “It’s great, I used to lug my cd player around but it got so heavy. This holds a lot of memory…” “Really? Like 3000 megs or something?” “I don’t know,” I said, lamely. “I requested something like this for my birthday, for my commute.” “You’re really beautiful, by the way,” The guy threw in there. I’m startled, really startled, for a second: “Oh…ok, well thank you.” He didn’t say it like a Big Sleaze, or disrespectfully, it just surprised me because here we were talking electronics and than bam, he busts out the Bus Compliment.
Ah, the Bus Compliment. Sometimes, I think people say things on buses, or while waiting for buses, that they probably would never reveal in real life. Back when I was in college, I got everything from marriage proposals to full on propositions that were really pretty genuine in their context. I had assumed I was now too old for such fanciful (and flattering) admirations…too old, and oh, yeah, should I tell him I’m married? I realized it didn’t matter, because after a quick, weird, pause he launched into being a fisherman in Alaska, catching crab for commercial distribution. It’s his winter job, good money, gotta pay child support and all. “Crab fishingâ€¦isn’t that dangerous?” I asked. “Yeah, it’s number one on the most dangerous jobs list.” “Oh, yeah, I think I watched a PBS special on that,” I mused. “I love it,” He declared, “I can’t wait to go back…so what classes are you taking at the college?” This guy was killing me. “I’m actually not a student, I’m a teacher…I’ll be teaching at an independent elementary school this year…4-6 year olds.” “Man, I wish I was 6 again,” The stranger said. “They have a good time, “I agreed. “Well, it sure warmed up nicely today,” He mused. “Sure,” I said, not sure if I should end this conversation soon but really, what else could I be doing on a bus but sitting around feeling bored? “Man, this heat is making me totally break out,” The guy showed me two zits on his forhead. “Heh heh,” I said. “Hey, does this bus go to Capitol Hill?” He asked. “No, you want the 44,” I advised. Just than the bus driver announced the Montlake Bridge was up, we would be sitting for a while, and oh-by-the-way this bus has no air conditioning. My new Bus Buddy got up and said, “I wonder if I can catch the 44, if he could let me off.” The back doors opened and suddenly he was gone…just like that.
Thu 18 Aug 2005
What have I been doing at the week long Math Workshop? Playing with wooden blocks, colored plastic cubes that connect, and lot’s and lot’s of graph paper. Yesterday we constructed gigantic Oompa Loompa factories using rolled up newspapers constructed into triangles…we had to build them ten times larger than our model. Our Oompa factory was a gigantic head with an attachable “thinking cap” that came on and off. The ‘candy’ was produced inside the brain of the factory and spit out the mouth. After the designated designers in my group pitched the idea I was in charge of documentation. I drew cartoon versions of our factory including a conceptual and graphic 3/d design…but I totally forgot to add any mathematical findings into the data. When it came down to how many triangles or how many sides it took to create our factory I was clueless. When I presented our factory using my drawings I summed it up by saying, “Uh…it’s presented less mathematical and more creative.” I was corrected: “No, no, not less mathematical but highly VISUAL.” Ok, cool…visual.
I’m making fast friends with the other Resident Teachers…out of the 6 in the lower elementary group 4 of us are married and 1 is engaged. It was a nice surprise, considering I thought I would be this old married crone amongst a gaggle of fresh-faced, early-twenties, graduate student bound resident teachers. Actually, half of the residents already have some sort of masterâ€™s degree and/or teaching certification. I’m impressed! The ten of us were picked from 350 applicants, so pats on the back all around. I’m sure most of them are questioning why I’m here since I’ve exhibited some stunning Math incomprehension…just wait until we hit Language Arts, ladies, I’ll ROCK that workshop.
All in all, I have found the workshop to be incredibly engaging. Although I still find Math to be difficult and overwhelming, I canâ€™t argue with playing with blocks to learn multiplication and division. Itâ€™s incredibly helpful and meaningful to have a visual aid and I curse my former teachers for taking away my tiles in first grade. It would have made more sense had I not been pushed into memorizing and factoring inside my blank head and not visually presented using 3-dimensional objects. What a different world it has become. If I ever have a Math Challenged child, he or she will have a lot more resources than I did.
My favorite tool? The fabulous Geoboard. Who knew it was so much fun to string rubber bands all over a bed of nails? Despite the temptation to flick rubber bands at each other, the Geoboard is a great tool for teaching geometry.
In other news, enthusiastic congrats to Johnny and Amy for creating a soon-to-be Mini-Peel! (I actually got misty when I found out…)
Mon 15 Aug 2005
Today I began a week long math workshop at my new school. Because I typically will do anything and everything to avoid math in life, I knew this workshop would be one of the best things I could do for myself as a teacher as an adult. I also knew that it would be dreadfully painful and bring up a lot of sore memories. One of the first things we did was fill out a sheet entitled: “Writing Your Mathematic Story! When you were in school…remember that…”
1) The CRITICAL EVENTS: Tell about a PEAK EXPERIENCE…a time you experienced joy, happiness, and even inner piece about a mathematical experience. Who was there? Where? How did it happen? (Etc…)
Seventh Grade. Mrs. S. The end was not the reward the process was just as important. This was Assist Math, so it was largely review. Because I was removed so often from my regular classroom and shuttled off to the portables with the remedial kids, I missed a lot of the concepts…like, fractions, I was gone during fractions. So in seventh grade it was as if my entire elementary math education was summed up and cemented in this single solitary school year. It did not last, but for that one year I felt that maybe I had “got it.”
2) Tell about a NADIR (a low experience)…describe the moment or episode . Where did it happen. Again who was involved? What did you do, what were you thinking and feeling?
My entire education is one big NADIR experience…honestly, for the most part. From First grade to Linguistics (who knew math with letters and languages would be even harder than with plain old numbers?) in college, I have little memory of any significant success. I can’t encompass my continuous feelings of failure in regards to even basic math, applying it to every day life is still a struggle for me; I have worn the title of “Bad At Math” almost my entire life.
Should I go on? I outed myself right away. I had so much anxiety sitting in that classroom, my heart raced, my blood pressure went up, and itâ€™s as if I was six years old having my counting blocks taken away all over again. Granted, new technology and research has provided new and different ways to present Math in the classroom. The focus is on problem-solving, mathematical thinking and inquiry versus pounding out arithmetic–which is what most of us did in grade school.
I spent most of my public education removed from regular class and put in Assist Math, counting out blocks and chanting multiplication rhymes. By the time I reached fifth grade I had given up on myself, cheerfully failing tests and not filling out half the answers on the scan tron sheets. I was told â€˜you have a mental block against Math.â€™ I recall the teacher of my Freshman Assist Algebra class grading my test in front of a group of kids. The answer was 41 and I wrote 14. He laughed, circled my answer incorrect with a red pen and said, â€œWhat is she? Dyslexic?â€ (As if I needed one more thing to be neurotic about in 9th grade). I eventually wore the â€œBad At Mathâ€ title snidely, sarcastically, bitterly. â€œYeah, Iâ€™m bad at Math, I scored like a 330 on my SAT.â€ I embraced my absent math skills by laughing at myself for years.
Many teachers had heart warming stories about their math experiences: â€œI always got Mathâ€”I didnâ€™t enjoy it, but I always understood. Than I was involved in this Math class (workshop, retreat, camp) and everything opened wide up and I had this amazing cognitive experience where everything made more sense and I could see the big picture.â€ So I raised my hand and said, â€œWhat if you have never â€˜got itâ€™? What if Math is too black and white, too concrete right or wrong, and you failed the work repeatedly–even though you spent all night trying to find that one single solitary answer?â€
While I was outing myself as Hopeless I was answering my own questions. Obviously Iâ€™m not completely inept, I can count back change and guesstimate the correct 20% tip on a bill. So what if I donâ€™t find Math interesting, I suppose this workshop will show me how it can at least be engaging, (although I discovered that I have no interest in Dollar Wordsâ€¦none).
The bottom line is that I canâ€™t honestly teach Math to kids if I donâ€™t understand it. So, trying to leave the dramatics and hysterics at the door, I am diving head first into very unknown territory.
Sun 14 Aug 2005
Basking in the sun, surf, and plenty of wind in front of Otter Rock.
Josh and I posing for a photo from our camera–which was placed precariously on a rock.
Inside the Devil’s Punch Bowl, an excellent place for extended tide pool searching. The lady next to me fell on her butt and soiled the back of her pants…I’m glad it wasn’t me.
Wed 10 Aug 2005
What I Did This Summer (so far):
1) Celebrated the birthday of myself and Josh.
2) Went to Whidbey Island and bought wine.
3) Attended the Pride Parade, Seafair, Madrona BBQ Festival, and numerous Farmer’s Markets.
4) Accepted a new job, put in my two weeks at the old job, accepted a better job, stayed on for another four weeks at the old job and finally had my last day August 08. New (and better) job here I come!
5) Endured Reconstructive Ear Surgery.
6) Practiced yoga almost daily starting in July.
7) Convinced good friend, Kris B., to move in upstairs on September 1.
Sadly allowed Ryan to move away to Canada so he could live with his wife.
9) Began 10 minute Abdominal Work Out with Josh on August 1…goal is to consistently perform exercises every day for washboard abs results.
10) Continued to make small income from jewelry-making despite only vendor being in Fort Collins.
11) Became extremely blasÃ© about crazy people on the bus, bus stop personal space invasions, and metro travel in general.
Now, to reward oneself for success we are off to the Oregon coast for several days of fun! Continuing the goal of spending our anniversary at the beach, we’re embarking this afternoon for a much needed vacation, (and Burgerville cuisine, Tillamook ice cream noshing, and Mo’s Clam Chowder enjoyment ).
Tue 9 Aug 2005
I did the usual things during my last day at the Beautiful Dance Store: Messed around, ate take out food, finished up a few projects (one of them being a mega-leotard organization task), wrote a lot of things off, graciously (and guiltily) accepted going away gifts, and bought a few items using my discount. This job improved immensely after I was given the security of a new teaching gig, the idea that my life was not going anywhere no longer plagued me, and the last few weeks I’ve been downright cheerful.
Of course I bought capris, my quest for the perfect pair still constant and never ending. After years of dancing on my pant cuffs, I realized I was not meant to perform in long pants. The only capris I own have a hole in the waistband, were hand crafted from an old pair of pants, and have faded to a dull grayish black. I know that all the ladies are wearing enormous, palazzo style capris with a fold over waist–a design that comes directly from the dancewear market (thank you very much, Urban Outfitters). I opted for flexibility and design from my new favorite activewear company, Marika. After perusing their website, I was thrilled by the detailed content, the yoga tips, the video demos, and the fabulous clothing!
Cute clothes aside, my interest in yoga has grown since the beginning of the summer. (Note: I know that know matter what I write, I might come off as boorish and trendy. I swear, all Chiseled-Arms-Like-Madonna-Posing-Like-I-Care-About-Christy- Turlington-Pregnant-Celebrities-Salvaging-Their-Bodies-With- Yoga-and-Pilates-bullshit aside, I want to try and write about yoga from a totally non-influenced place). Perhaps the dull weather inspired me to get out and plant my feet in the grass, strike a warrior pose, and try to calm my racing, neurotic, heart. I’ve actually never taken a formal class, only experienced yoga in the form of various modern dance warm-ups. I’ve even used yoga in my own classes, which always made me feel a little guilty, considering my lack of formal training. Honestly, the prospect of major reconstructive surgery heightened my quest for spiritual calm and sensibility. It has worked too! I have checked out about a dozen yoga books trying to fill in the holes where my own movement background has lapsed. I need to dive in and take a class, finally get that yoga training. Regardless, I want to hold fast my own personal interests and classes while embarking on my new teaching career. Motivation is crucial, and I have to constantly remind myself how fabulous I will feel after breathing deeply three times, petting my cat while hanging over my knees, and soaking in some much needed sun–while it lasts.