New York. I love you. And I hate you.

When I first arrived, I walked slowly, looking up.  Eyes darting.  I soaked it in.  And began to feel the magic.  Began to connect my visuals to the things I’ve only heard of and tried to slow my brain down, tried to picture a scenario where this was all normal.

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And before it know it, it was.  New York sucked me in.  I walked faster, talked faster, looked down instead of up.  My routine pushed me past the tourists and musicians on the street and there was a moment of time when it all froze, in perfect harmony, and my purpose aligned with this New Yorkness.  And suddenly, New York became me, and I it.  My vocabulary changed. Life expectations, favorite past times.  They all changed.  And I was eternally effected.  And in love.  I signed at the skyline, a wisp of a smile as I realized I recognized it as home. And I felt the pull… as tiny ants march in a row.. and I cued up.. to join the march of the New Yorker.  Savoring each moment, each pizza and bagel. Each walk through the village and night on the town.  Each cell screaming- in all the crazy world- in all the crazy places- can it be?!? It’s the greatest city in the world- and yet- somehow I fit.

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And then time passed again.  Winter came to the city.  My routine changed.  and I felt New York sucking me under.  The commute changed from naps and entertainment to the dull ache of wasted minutes in time.  And strangers, once so beautiful, now carried with them odors  and personalities that rammed into my personal space.  And I realized that there was very little romantic about getting screamed at by strangers or having peoples’ bodies and belongings pressing my skin as I balanced on a moving train.  And I wondered if I could ever love New York again the way I once did.

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But now.  It’s spring.  And I feel that Manhattan energy steeping out to my borough, pulling me in.  Calling me to match the stride.  And suddenly there’s hope again.  I do love New York!  Even with all it’s energy extremes.  And I will not let winter subway commutes take that from me.

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Because no matter what, New York will always be where I first became me.

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Apricity

 

I’ll just say it now.  Winter is my LEAST favorite season. I don’t even have to shovel sidewalks or scrape my car and I still feel this way.  Mostly because it’s too cold and the snow gets too sloshy and I hate the constant reapplication of tights.  Layers really aren’t my thing.

That said. There have been many bright moments in this blight that is ‘winter.’

  1. This winter in New York has actually been mild.  Perhaps my favorite.  I didn’t even wear a coat to the airport on Christmas Eve!  And we got our first snow yesterday.  The very first real snow.  It ended up being 26 inches or something. Which was just enough to keep me trapped in my house in PJs for 2 days.  Actually not a bad way to handle snow I think.  Also.  Horray for 2 less months of snow than I’m accustomed to.
  2. Life has a way of filling up with good things.  Like random selfies with this favorite of mine.
  3. I finally got to visit the NY transit museum. It’s in an old train station- how cool is that??
  4. My kiddos told funny stories, drew funny pictures, and actually listened for the first week after break.  So fantastic.  Now, here’s a picture of a car: 
  5. And then my life took an unplanned detour- with a spontaneous trip to Indiana to catch a ride to Iowa to attend my great grandfather’s funeral. I got a seat to myself.Was greeted by RVs in the airport.  (So… unique.) Went old school waiting on trains.Caught up with cousins and planned exciting trips.  (Obviously- I’m the most excited of us all.) And then it was Iowa.  I haven’t been in 5 years.  Since this one got married. That also means it’s been 5 years since I’ve been all together with this clan.  (The last time I saw some of these people, they were kids!)And then there was the part where I had to say goodbye to my last great grandparent.  My grandpa actually asked me to speak at the funeral because “you’re a writer.”  Well, I’m glad HE thinks so but I wasn’t so sure.  I mean.  How could I be the one to speak for everyone there?!?  So I decided not to speak for them and instead, speak for me.  And in that process, I realized that I am really going to miss this older man we called grandpa.  I have so many sweet and savored memories surrounding my memories of him.  Mostly of trips to Iowa as children.  Not to mention the resounding impact he made in the person I am just from simply living his life humbly and raising his daughter, who raised her daughter, who raised me.  Now here’s a picture of said great grandpa, on a bike.  Too cool. 

And that has been my winter thus far.

Apricity: (n) The warmth of the sun in winter.

Circular Thinking

I haven’t been writing and that bothers me.  Because I’m loosing my writing voice.  And because I read an article the other day that said that we mostly think the same thoughts over and over every day.  And I realize that it’s true and I wonder why my thoughts don’t make many progressions and I realize that perhaps my thoughts aren’t all that productive.  Hence, I should write? Who knows.  But I can at least try.  To reach out to the world with little keyboard taps of communication and try to connect to someone else instead spinning the web of circular thoughts I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking these days.

That said.  I don’t know what to write about except the thoughts I’ve been spinning.  So I’ll try my best to arrange these repeats of mine into some cohesive line.

This month was my birthday month.  But you already knew that.  Turning 27 has been interesting.  It looks very different than 22, but I liked it.  On my birthday my coworkers bought me lunch and sang to me.  After 7 sessions of kids, back to back, it didn’t really feel like my birthday.  And I took a nap in the afternoon, which isn’t something I usually do on my birthday.  But I went out for Habachi for dinner.   Which also isn’t something I normally do, but it did make me feel more like it was my birthday.  Our chef wasn’t award winning or anything.  But we were entertained by the experience. 

November has also been unseasonably warm and beautiful.  Which I love. So much. Especially when my living room window has sunset views like this one!

Aside from my own personal holiday, November was riddled with celebratory days off from school,  Thanksgiving being my favorite of the options.

This year I did some new things for Thanksgiving.

  1. I went to central park and looked at all the parade balloons after they were blown up.  Instead of the parade floating by us, we floated by it.  The lines were unexpected but it was still mostly enjoyed in beautiful weather with my fun friends.

 

2. My WHOLE family came to visit.  This has only happened once before, for my graduation, and we didn’t spend any time in the city together.  But this year, we did.  A Thanksgiving feast, black Friday shopping at midnight (surprisingly manageable crowds), the Statue of Liberty, and Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway.  For now, we are all grown ups and we almost always get along.  Oh the fun we can have together!  Like my mom said, “If only we could freeze this time.”

{Shopping}

{Heading out for a day in the city.}

{I think we look terribly alike in this picture.}

{Look what I found!}

So really, these aren’t the thoughts I’ve been thinking over and over again.  But rather the highlights between them.  But in my attempt to avoid the spinning vortexes of subway schedules and therapy prompts, it couldn’t be helped.

That said, I would like to add that I am, in fact, 1/3 of the way through my second year of teaching!  Can you believe it?!? And, while my littles aren’t all that funny, they are terribly endearing and at times it’s thrilling to help them learn.  Currently one of my favorites is a little kindergardener with the beginnings of a mustache.  Oh he is so cute.  And he’s learning not to repeat everything I say.  That said, sometimes our conversations go like this:

Me: Do you have to go to the bathroom?

Him: bathroom?

Me: yes or no?

Him: (pause… thoughtful face) yes.

Me: Is it an emergency?

Him: emergency?

Me: yes or no?

Him: (pause… thoughtful face) yes.

Me: Can you hold it?

Him: hold it?

Me: yes or no?

Him: (pause… thoughtful face) yes.

Turns out it’s not just my thoughts spinning in circles these days. 🙂

Estos Días

These days have been fuller than I could have anticipated.  All in the best ways of course.

Work:  We’ve only had 9 days of school so far.  Since starting September 8th.  So.  Work hasn’t really been full of that much work.  But I have had full days of therapy now.  And two IEP meetings already.

{The view from my office door- of the doors that always bang as children run to the bathroom daily and I yell “WALK!” after them.}

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{Just a fun start of the year bulletin board.  Can you guess which hand is mine?}

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But mostly- work has been full of Spanish.  With kiddos from kindergarten through 2nd grade- many of them speak Spanish better than English.  And since my goal is to teach them LANGUAGE (not English.  I’m not an ESL teacher.) I teach in the language they are strongest in.  Which means, I spend a large portion of my day plowing through Spanish verbs.  Also. I had to translate for an hour and a half during parent curriculum night.  Now, talking to kids about what they did this weekend is very different than talking to parents about ELA and Math curriculum. (aka: AHHH Vocabulary words I don’t know!)  Not to mention, following the teacher’s opening soliloquy and her follow up question, “Now who understood that?” it was discovered that in the room of 20 parents – about 2/3 spoke Chinese, 1/3 spoke Spanish, 1 spoke Arabic, and 3 (total) spoke English.  The school wasn’t able to get a Chinese translator for us but the one bilingual Chinese-English parent helped out nicely.  Side note: not a lot gets covered in an hour and a half presentation when you have to take the time for translation to Spanish and Chinese.  Annnnd… half way through my tongue collapsed from all its foreign language use and disconnected from my brain.  I accidentally called the teacher a man.  The parents snickered.  I pulled it together and corrected myself.  At the end I decided that I must be able to speak Spanish after all.  Which is a fantastic thing to discover as I’ve been ‘learning’ it for… 12 years.  That said.  These days my brain is doing a lot of code switching and I find myself surprised at times by the language that comes out- especially when speaking to strangers, children, and stray animals.

Not Work:  When I’m not at work (which is has been statistically more common than not this month) I have been having some unexpected adventures.

1. I went to the beach for a sunrise baptism.  It’s pretty pathetic that I live on an island and it was my first time going to our beach all year.. To state the obvious- it made me happy. 🙂

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2. The Guggenheim.  I haven’t been in 3 years!  My, is it just me- or have I been living here a while?

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{We both wore bird shirts.  What are the odds?!?}

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3. A naturalization ceremony and PARTY!

This week my roomie invited me to watch her get sworn in as an American citizen.  Since I didn’t have to work (we were off for a Muslim holiday), I was excited to join her.  Upon arrival we forfeited our phones and cameras.. waited in lines.. and were separated from our friends – left to imagine what a naturalization ceremony is like by piecing together blurred images from a silent TV monitor in a large waiting room.  Thankfully, after the 4 hour ceremony was almost over, someone turned up the volume on the TV screen and we got to hear the actual taking of the oath, their first address as citizens, and cheer right along with them.  Oh what fun to become an American!  (Especially after 15 years of waiting and test taking that many of them had endured.)  Needless to say- Karen was very happy and Erleen and I hosted a party with some of our friends from church to celebrate!

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To end… a reminder… that the sunsets in Brooklyn are even nice sometimes!     IMG_20150922_185749232_HDRa

First Impressions

Tuesday was day one. No kids. Just teachers.

I had forgotten how long my commute is!  Nearly late for the first day.  A nice adrenaline rush plus a half mile walk up the hill to school makes for a great start I’d say.  That and meeting one of my kids on the school steps.  His mom wasn’t sure when school started.  I sent them home.  Happy last day of summer, kid.

This year I’m full time at one school.  Praise the Lord.  No more carrying all my papers and games and games and papers back and forth between schools.  No more forgetting things at one school when I want them at the other school.  Now I can just forget things at home like a normal person.

I was late to our first meeting.  Mostly because it wasn’t announced.  It was implied.  “There’s breakfast in the cafeteria B.” apparently stands for, “Come eat a bagel and listen to a beginning of the year welcome and orientation.”  Thankfully our principal has a head on her shoulders and let us set up our classrooms and read the handbook on our own time instead of listening to the droning of power point presentations that cover fire drill expectations and tardiness policies.  As a plus, once you’ve read all those policies yourself in the handbook, you just have to sign this handy little form and you get to pick up a free teacher tote bag, complete with some new classroom materials!  (How great is that!?!)

Following our meeting we headed to our rooms.  This year I have inherited a reformed storage closet with a window (in the door- not the wall.  No, sunlight needy plants would not thrive in my office).  Which is SO much nicer than sharing half a room with 3 other providers. (I think).  Don’t worry.  Neither speech office has AC.  So that’s all fair.  And really, really warm.

What a happy discovery to find my office filled with teacher tote bags. 150 teacher totes.  For the 150 teachers at our school.  It just makes it hard to, you know, move around in my closet office.  So then I got to help move half of them to the main office.  But they ran out of room to store them there?  (Interesting.  I’ve run out of room to reach my bookshelves without walking in arches around piles… it seems we have a similar problem…)

That said.  The first week of school this year turned out to be a breeze.  In the figurative sense.  It helps that I’m at one school instead of two.  It helps that I’ve done this before and have a guess at what I’m going.  And I like that I know people at work (I’m full time at a place I was part-time at last year).

It makes me excited to start.  Happy to be there.  And sane when I go home.

So far.

Even if the internet was down on Friday and I spent the day moving around tote bags to access corners of my room and cutting out letters for door signs and bulletin boards.  It’s nice to feel productive again.

{1/3 of the original tote pile remains.  Also yes, you can fit 3 of the walls in my room in a photo when I stand against the door and lift my phone really high and angle it.}

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{My door.  I think it’s important to identify where you are and who I am.  I don’t think it’s important to cut out the center of small vowels with large scissors.  Like Erleen says, “In 10 years, who will care?”}

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It’s also nice that Jews have so many holidays in September.  Four day weekends are a very nice way to end the first half week of school.

Here’s to starting something new, again!

Parlez-vous Français?

I have discovered that I never eat at French restaurants because…. I can’t afford it.

But this week I was on the hunt for one and found a nice cafe where I got to ask our waiter how to say… “I want the croque mosieur” in French (which, let’s face it- was a ham and cheese sandwich).

{Le Menu}

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{Not how your mother makes them.  (unless your mother is French)}

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The French continued with a brisk walk to Broadway- weaving tourists and dodging stop lights like the pros we are- for second row seats to Les Miserables.  $45 teacher discounts are SUCH a win!

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{Only some of my very favorite people.}

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And that was my fun French night.  My other French nights haven’t been that fun.  You see, I’m taking this online class because… I mean, French is cool…. and I’m only 3 credits from moving up the pay scale (wah wah).  But.  Let. me. tell. you. Learning languages from the internet is just… ridiculous. I CAN’T READ THIS LANGUAGE!  How am I going to LEARN it without a teacher?!?!?!? So puzzling.  I mean. I guess – according to my French quiz/game website homework I now know 8% of the language… which seems pretty accurate.  Even if I can’t speak or understand a lick.

I mean.

/komo ale vu/ is spelled  “Comment allez-vous.”  So yeah.  Me reading French actually is me 1. listening to google translate, 2. writing it phonetically like a nerd, 3. and reading that.

So… this summer online class is ganna be great.  I can tell already.  (But- win for living in a city that allows me to do my ‘cultural homework assignment’ by writing a 2 page paper about an event I was ALREADY planning on going to.)

Also this week. I took a selfie with a dog while snacking on a blanket listening to the NY Philharmonic in Brooklyn with new friends and old.  See, she looks JUST like our childhood dog!

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Which leads us to…. summer.  Which officially started today according to the Earth’s rotation around the sun… but starts for me on Friday.  Oh so soon. Horrah Horray!

Funny Photo | topnotchteaching.com

Post Hipster Takeover

June has included, for me, several visits to Williamsburg, Brooklyn- where hipsters dwell and bike and chat by with their mustache faces.

But, even if they all wear stinky deodorant (or whatever my co-workers rant about these ‘down to earth’ people) their gentrification of Williamsburg has formed a very interesting little sub-town.

You see, once upon a time Williamsburg used to be the ‘ghetto’ or something like that.  And.  It’s still full of great graffiti and under-developed parks and the like.  But now it also has places to eat with funny names like “Pies-n-Thighs” and, well, more graffiti.  It also is separated by the Williamsburg Bridge to the villages in Manhattan.  So convenient.

So. I went with a friend to Pies-n-Thighs.  We walked around and enjoyed the general randomness that gentrification brings.  And had fun.

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Then I went again.  After crepes in the village.  We were celebrating my roomie’s completion of the school year (yay Erleen for surviving!) and instead of going home we decided to find a place with a view.

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We started by walking the bridge.

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It doesn’t really have a view.

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Although it’s interesting in its own right.

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{Unexplained lines taunted Erleen for miles— errr- feet}

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{There’s a perfect place for everything I guess??}

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{So much graffiti. Lots of things for literate people to do on this bridge.  But.  It was mostly just people’s names. Not that cool or anything.}

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The quest for a view continued as we wove through Williamsburg and found our way to a tiny pier full of almost exclusively Jewish women.  Regardless of the sideways glancing, it was a spectacular sunset viewing local.

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{Me and Erleen.  She survived her 10th year of teaching the rugrats of Brooklyn. She’s happy to be alive and I’m happy she can stay out late and not grade homework. Also. I’m happy we’re friends.}

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And the sun set on the city that never sleeps as we walked home.

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bloom