Friday, December 31, 2010

2011

This week has brought a lot of much needed clarity to my mind. I have a much better idea of what I want to do in the next couple years, things to 'leave in 2010' and things to strive for in 2011.
You could call this a resolution, but its more a plan for happiness.

11 things for 2011

1. Work-Life Separation

I'm not even saying "balance" because I know that's not really possible. But separation will be key for me. Here's the rule: No work at home! Grad school assignments/work at home will be tolerated, but not preferred. Surely if I maximize my hours between 7-6 Monday through Friday there should be no reason to take work home. This will mean I will have to be more of a "robot" at school, which I don't like to do... but I think the benefits will outweigh the downsides. This is the one that will make or break a lot of the others.

2. Work out 3-4 times a week

I'm pretty good about this, but rather inconsistent. In 2011 I'm looking for consistency! I'm also thinking half marathon? (Signing up for one in Central Park on April 3!) Join an intramural team? (Make friends, play outside... I'm pretty excited.)

3. Date

My break up with JJ made me realize a lot of things. I won't delve into that now, but it leads me to this caveat: I'm happy being single, and I don't need a man in my life. That being said, I would like to be in a relationship, and I could do a better job pursuing that desire. And if nothing else, I'll have some fun getting to know people along the way.

4. Keep in Touch

This comes from a friendship and "networking" point of of view. I say its so hard to keep in touch with people, but I don't think I've put as much effort as I can into it. I have been blessed with so many amazing people in my life. Some of my upcoming travel plans will help me to have some 1-1 face time, but I'm also looking into more skype dates, texts, phone, etc. I say "its so hard to keep in touch" when really, its never been easier.

5. Music - listen and play

I have not just sat around and listened to music for enjoyments sake in such a long time. I want this almost to the point that I need it back in my life. I bought a guitar... but I "haven't had time to play it." I'm making time. I've always been envious of people who can play guitar, but it could so easily be me. In 2011, I'm going to teach myself guitar.

Let's talk about flute. I have developed this love-hate relationship with playing the flute. I love it for obvious reasons... but it also a source of sadness. I miss being good. I miss practicing. I miss playing with a group of people. So... I am going to audition for the Brooklyn Community Orchestra and in preparation will need to start seriously practicing again. I am also thinking about looking for opportunities with SAI Alumnae.

6. "Hang out" more

I have a lot of good friendships in NY, but I don't feel as close to them. I think part of this is because we never just "hang out" - I miss this aspect of friendship a lot. There are things about NY that make "hanging out" harder... but I'm going to try! I'm thinking game nights/dinner nights/etc.


7. Budget

I always budget, but do I stick to it? Not really. I'm going to change up my strategy a little bit and give myself a weekly amount of money for whatever I want. It'll be like an allowance... I'll be my own mother. haha

8. Dream

My dream book is still next to my on my bedside table... but I don't really look at it anymore. I want to bring that back into my life - it helps ground me in life goals of all sizes.

9. Learn and Do

A cooking dish? A home improvement craft? In trying to make myself a more well rounded person, I'd like to learn and do more. Simple things. Big things are taken care of in other areas. But simple things bring quick rewards. Important thing on this one is to spread it out and not do more than one thing at a time.

10. Preparation

Probably the most actionable on the list - I want to plan out my outfits and my lunches on Sundays to relieve some of the weekday stress (especially at 5 or 6am).

11. Next Steps

Save, study, and apply for grad school.


I'm ready to say goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011. I think 2011 will be a year of transition/preparation... getting ready for the next phase in my life. I think it will be a year when I take back my sense of self, and really own it. I think it'll be a good year.

Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

under my um-ber-ella.



Umbrellas.

Is there any other object available to us that fails so regularly at fulfilling its relatively simple purpose after hundreds of years of existence? None that I can think of.

The idea of the umbrella has stayed relatively the same since ancient Egyptian times... yet somehow your average umbrella will fail to perform effectively.

An item made for bad weather that cannot stand up to bad weather? Silly. A bit too much wind and your screwed, not to mention left looking silly in the middle of the street, fumbling around with an inverted umbrella while rain slaps your face. Trying to put down the umbrella... lets just hope nobody behind you is in a rush.

Is it just me? Do umbrellas hate me? Or does everybody suffer my umbrella plight?

Silly.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Southern Comfort

Coming home from Thanksgiving was the first time that I wasn't just thrilled to be coming back to NYC. I love New York... but I feel like I don't really get to enjoy it. (maybe/hopefully this will change)

I miss Texas/Oklahoma. I never thought I would really want to live there forever, but when I was down there for Thanksgiving I just kept thinking "Yep. It'd be nice to live down here." (Not Houston... yuck. But in Texas at least.) I miss the people, friends, family, cars, suburbs, weather, etc. etc. But I feel like if I moved back, I'd be missing on something else. What else? Not quite sure.

I should be working. Work, work, work. Always working, and it's never enough.

What will I do next year?!
What will I do with my life?!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Make It Work

Tim Gun's key phrase is "Make it work" and I feel like that phrase is becoming increasingly important in my life. This makes me question - when do we acknowledge that there might be something that just works better or easier? When do we stop trying so hard to 'make it work'?

Should we have to work so hard to achieve a certain level of happiness?

I guess the important thing is that we achieve it, though - right?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

free to be me pt. 2

"How am I not myself?"
- I Heart Huckabees
(love that movie)

I feel like myself again and it is a world of difference. In switching my mindset, I've realized that sometimes, the best thing you can do is stop caring. Stop caring about pride, grudges, frustrations, etc.

Sometimes, you just have to own your own happiness.

I am me again!
I am happy again!

:)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

free to be me

If I had to chose one specific thing to say about my struggles this year is that I no longer feel like myself at work. This feeling is the root of so much dissatisfaction in my life - to not feel like yourself is an injustice to the life your living. I have allowed certain people, systems, hell-bent grudges, etc. affect me in this way. The bigger problem is that work (or work-related things) involve roughly 75% of my current life... causing me to only partially feel like myself the other 25% of the time, because I'm still recovering and rethinking it all.

I am taking the advice of the beloved Eleanor Roosevelt.

"Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world."

"I think at some point we learn who we really are and then live with that decision."

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't."

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

My issues at work don't involve students or student achievement... and isn't that all that really matters? When did I stop deciding to do things for myself, in the way that is best for me? When did I start allowing other people to effect me in this way? Why did that happen?

I'm taking back me. I'm ignoring "you" and the way you make me feel. I'm doing what I need to do in order to feel like myself, and we're all going to benefit from it - myself, my kids, my friends, etc.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apples to Apples

If you go to an orchard and pick a bag of apples, you then need to eat a lot of apples.

Dinner:
Spiced Apples and Chicken
Modified from Eating Well: Healthy in a Hurry

Dessert:
Apple Pecan Cobbler and Vanilla Ice Cream
Modified from All Recipes
One of my absolute favorite things about my new apartment is the kitchen! Cooking is such a pleasure when you have the space.
Yummmmmm.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple Pickin'

As part of Heather's birthday celebration we enjoyed some fall weather by going to Maskers Apple Orchard! I may have apple picking before, but not to my recollection. It was a wonderful seasonal afternoon. Maskers is one poppin orchard - apparently a very popular spot for New Yorkers seeking to get out of the city bustle and into rows and rows of apple trees. They had many more seasonal treats for the family to enjoy as well - ponies, pumpkins, cider, and of course - apple cider doughnuts!

The drive there was absolutely breathtaking. There is something fascinating about nature. In our lifetime we see its potential to destroy us, but also get to enjoy the simple things about it that make our world a substantially more enjoyable place. Such as fall leaves - especially where in one tree you have vibrant green, red, yellow, and oranges - on winding hilly roads. Add to this the company of 4 great friends. Unfortunately no pictures of the drive - just wouldn't be safe, seeing how I was driving. Its just as good though, because a picture never does things that beautiful true justice.

Here are some pictures of our fall adventure:

The girls.

We're apples!

Picking apples

Climbing trees.

Eating all the free apples we want!

Then at home I made dough...

Cut the apples I picked...

and made a seriously DELICIOUS apple pie.
(topped with some gruyère cheese shavings. yummmm)

Next stop: Pumpkin patch and pumpkin carving?

Enjoy life - especially the simple things - as much as humanly possible.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall + Mud

It's decided - fall is my favorite season.

I feel like I just work, work, work... but there are some hours of escape that have been quite delightful. Things I've enjoyed so far this fall...
An afternoon spent in the park. I absolutely cannot wait for the leaves to start changing colors.

Mud Run!
My friend Erin, her sister, and I did a 5k in the Bronx with Merrell's Down and Dirty Mud Run. It was so much fun! There were military obstacles spread out around the run and it ended with a huge mud pit. I loved it! Next year, we're thinking of doing the 10k!

It's moments like these that help me smile through the looooong days.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mental Health

I've been 50% sick for about two weeks so I decided to take today to get back to 100% healthy. My main reasons for this:
1. If you're half sick for too long it turns into this terrible full sickness thats way harder to recover from.
2. I haven't been able to work out in almost a week... and I have a 5k on Sunday that I really need to be healthy for.
3. Who really wants to deal with 30 children for 9 hours a day when you're sick?

What I didn't expect is that today turned out to be a much needed mental health day as well. I've done a lot of thinking in my many hours laying in bed... here's what I've come up with.

Moments of clarity...

It's okay not to know.
I've always had a plan. The only other time in life that I didn't know exactly what I wanted and what I was meant to do was that awkward month in college where I just drank too much and played endless hours of spider solitaire before switching majors - also known as my "quarter-life crisis". I don't know what I'm going to do next year, but moreover I don't know what I want to do next year. This is what I've realized this morning...

1. I would love to be a career teacher... but not like this. I don't want to try so hard to find positive things to say.
2. I want to stay in New York for a while longer... but there are also many other places where I would really enjoy living. I'm starting to let go of my need to stay in New York (but I'm still going to try to stay here).
3. If not teaching, I do want to pursue a career in public administration... but in order to feel confident in this pursuit, I want to go to grad school (or maybe put law school back on my radar). Its too late to reasonably consider this for next year, so I'm potentially shooting for 2012.
4. What other adventures are out there for me to consider?
5. Who says I need to have it all figured out right now? (well... my subconscious often tells me this, I'm sure) For now, I'm okay with not really knowing.
6. Bottom line is it all works out.

"Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised."
- Dan in Real Life

There is time.
What I really want in life is to be a wife and mother in a stable, happy home. Granted, this sounds cheesy and a bit too traditional for most... but it's what I've always wanted. Don't get me wrong - I don't in any way think it's what "women are supposed to do"... it's just what I want to do. Fact of the matter is I'm not, nor have I ever really been, on the path toward realizing this dream. But what I continue to convince myself is there is time. What's the rush? Even if I never get there, this a great world to experience in so many other ways.

Breathe deeply.
If I were to describe my most common emotions as of late, frustrated would be in my top 5. I'm going to do my best to stop spending my energy being frustrated. What's the point? Focus on the good, deal with bad, find the humor where you can, and breathe deeply.

Taking today off was probably one of the best decisions I've made in a while. I feel rested, 85% healthy (getting there, right?) and so much calmer.

Here's to not knowing. Cheers.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

J'adore New York

One of my favorite things about the city is the extremely convenient ability to have small adventures. Waking up on a relaxing weekend and wandering out the city is not easily a boring thing - especially in the fall. Pleasant coffee shops welcome you to have conversation. Street musicians play their ditties, hoping for your change. Flea markets buzz, full of little trinkets. Ah, the list goes on. My favorite thing about living here are these things. I've stopped using my camera as much... this has got to change. I'm going to capture these pleasantries from now on.

And now back to work.

I need internet at home...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happiness...

...hit her like a train on a track
- "Dog Days Are Over"
by Florence and the Machine

The wonderful thing about my work/life complete and utter separation is that life outside of work has become an exceptionally happy place. A few things to love about life...

1. I spend many of my evenings amusing myself by learning the guitar. It's becoming a super-hobby of mine. I don't expect to be good any time soon, but I am thoroughly enjoying becoming mediocre.

2. My room is nature themed.

3. I indulge in a lot of reading of books and watching of movies. Two things which I simply love.

4. I'm coming to an end of a 4 day weekend that was jam packed with wonderful people. I had lots of lovely meals, celebrated birthdays, caught up with old friends, spent time with new friends, and hiked up a mountain. Thank you, Rosh Hashanah, for making it all possible.

5. There is always something new to see in NYC.

6. There is always something new to discover.

7. There are always new memories just waiting to be made, and old ones available to be fondly remembered.

Enjoying life with wonderful people is without a doubt an excellent reason to live each day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Change

Oh my - it has been far too long since I have blogged. I attribute this to my 2 week vacation (amazing - to be blogged about in the near future), over 60 hour work weeks, and my free time being mostly devoted to the treacherous process of moving. But alas, here I am - in Barnes and Nobles for use of free internet - finally blogging again.

Soon, I'll blog about all the wonderful things - mainly my trip to the south, weddings, new apartment, and fun happenings around the city. For now, I need to blog about something that has almost consumed my mind as of late: change. There are few things that remained constant in my life the past few years, and I find my life altogether changing drastically again.

"There is nothing wrong with change, if it is the right decision"
- Winston Churchill

New Apartment
I am so excited to be living in my new apartment. I never understood the psychological effects of space until now - moving from my tiny, lonely studio into a spacious apartment, and specifically into my new bedroom, I just feel more at ease. There's really no rhyme or reason to it - I just automatically feel more comfortable because of the space, the division of rooms, and the fact that I'm not alone. This, dear Winston, was definitely the right decision.

A Place to Call Home...
A change that has been developing pretty steadily since moving is my comfort level in NYC. I can now say that I feel comfortable in my own skin here. I feel at home here. And I feel like I have an established set of people in my life that I can rely on - happily, a set that continues to grow.

Finding the positives...
There are many other changes (mostly dealing with work) that have been very difficult for me. Because of these changes, I often have to fight feeling devalued or without confidence or just so frustrated I begin to not care. My 2nd year teaching has definitely had a rocky start... but I'm trying to find the positives and embrace the hell out of them and then in turn settle with the things I'm currently struggling with.

Glad to be back. LYMI

Friday, July 23, 2010

1 : 12 : 4,006

1 year. 12 books. 4,006 pages.

In my book of goals for my life, one was to read 12 leisure books in one year. Check!
Now this may not seem like a big accomplishment, but in the past I would be really impressed/surprised if I had read more than 2 leisure books in a year... so this was a big deal for me. I've always enjoyed reading... but now I have found my love for it! Now it is a part of my everyday life (thank you subway and lack of television) and I would hate to lose that.


1. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
by David Sedaris

David Sedaris has a way of taking every day life and highlighting all the little pleasantries, even where you don't expect them. This series of short anecdotes made me laugh when I needed to laugh the most.

2. The Lost Continent
by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson's account of his travels across small town America is simple and hilarious. After moving to the big city, it was refreshing to read about our tiny towns, so rich in character.

3. The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion

After reading books that made me laugh, it was time for a book to make me cry. Joan Didion, a well respected author, shares with us her process of recovery during the year following the death of her husband. Though very technical at times, this book gave me a new insight to sickness, death, grief, love, and hope.
"Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant."


4. Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger

A classic high school read, but I'm delighted I chose to read it again. I loved following Holden through this interesting time of transition and self realization.

5. Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett

It is a powerful thing when literature captures you and brings you to another place and time - this book did exactly that. Set in medieval times, Follett takes us across countries, spanning two generations, telling a story of love, war, and most importantly, passion - an intense passion for fulfilling a life long goal of building a beautiful cathedral. I will forever look at cathedrals with a new fondness.

6. A Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

Yet again returning to the high school classic, A Brave New World was a refreshing re-read. An intriguing story about the expectations of society and the few who defy them.

7. Neither Here Nor There
by Bill Bryson

I decided to return to Bryson for another trip - this time, traveling across Europe. Unlike the trips to London, Paris, Rome... Bryson took me to places I hadn't heard of, and once again found many amusing moments in the simple things of these foreign places.

8. To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

Yes, another delightful re-read. Such a beautiful story about justice, childhood, curiosity, and personal secrets.

9. First They Killed My Father
by Loung Ung

Loung Ung writes her personal story of surviving the civil war in Cambodia as she struggles through loss, starvation, and separation. At times, a depressing read as it reminds us of the terrible things humans have done to each other; at the same time a beautiful story of strength, hope, and family.

10. The Mole People
by Jennifer Toth

Toth takes us underground to the interesting world of the Mole People - communities to the hundreds that are living underneath the subways. A fascinating story about people who escape society only to create one in the dark tunnels of abandoned railways.

11. Brooklyn
by Colm Toibin

A story about a young Irish girl who moves to Brooklyn to pursue education, employment, and love. This book did not fulfill my expectations... I was not drawn in until the last chapter of the book. Overall, a rather boring story about a rather boring girl.

12. Letters to a Young Teacher
by Jonathan Kozol

My year of reading 12 books happened to coincide with my first year of teaching. What better way to end both than reading a book of letters written to a first year teacher in inner-city Boston. This book was very appropriate to read at this point in my life as I think about the purpose of education, and my personal purpose as a young, developing teacher.

This year has developed a love for reading that I never thought I could have.

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
- Mark Twain

Saturday, July 17, 2010

one person

Its amazing how one person and one simple interaction can change your mood completely. I've been in quite a 'blah' mood these past couple days for just a variety of reasons, and I woke up thinking today was just going to be another 'blah' day. Then the exterminator came. Not only am I super excited that he was here because I hate bugs, but my simple interactions with him literally changed my mood, getting me out of that 'blah' funk in 2 short minutes!

There was nothing significant about our interactions... he was just nice, and funny, and helpful. But for some reason, it meant everything.

Smile at somebody.
Be nice.

It just might change their day.

:)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

rain, rain, GO AWAY!

I went to Fire Island for three days (my friend Emily has a house there). Fire Island is AMAZING and I love it so much - I will likely blog all about it soon. BUT it was cloudy/rainy the WHOLE time (except for like 1 hour of sunshine). I mean I still had a great time... but c'mon! I wanted to chill in the sun by the beach/pool/deck!!

Then the sky cleared up and I say to myself, at least it'll be nice weather for Shakespeare in the Park tomorrow (which I was really looking forward to). Guess what. Supposed to be sunny all day... and then rain right about when the performance is about to start. I'm not waiting in line for 5 hours for tickets to a show that will likely be rained out!

rain, rain, GO AWAY!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

hard to imagine...

It's hard to imagine life before New York.
It's been a year.
Let's reflect.

Friends, Family, the Whole Shebang
I had an awesome set up in previous years of my life - surrounded by amazing friends and a very supportive, loving family. Then I moved here, roughly 1,500 miles away from anyone who genuinely knew me. I had never really struggled with loneliness at any point in my life, and at times here I did. Coming here made me realize and appreciate how wonderful things were, and learn how to battle loneliness and rebuild those relationships in an adult/altogether different environment. As a result, I don't think I've ever missed people/places as much as I sometimes do. I also feel like I've been lucky to be put in situations where I meet people who I truly enjoy and want to continue to work on developing the same types of friendships I've had in the past. I'm excited for year 2 - to see how my friendships here will continue to grow and to see new friendships grow and develop as well.
Past and present, I've been very lucky with the people in my life - love you all!

Adult Life
Quick - find a job and a place to live. Oh, your computer doesn't work and you lost your phone and somebody stole your wallet? And we can't give you an apartment until you have a job, but you can't get a job because there's a hiring freeze. Welcome to adult life.
It was a crazy beginning. And look how far I've come haha. I feel so much more 'put together' as an adult now than in the beginning. It's funny how some days I feel so youthful still, and others I feel like my gray hairs are a testament of feeling like I'm 30. I'm excited to move into my new apartment and have a fresh start to it all. Hopefully I won't become too "adult-like" yet, though.

Teaching and Learning
They say the hardest thing about TFA is constantly feeling like a failure... and they're right. It's funny talking to other people and hearing about how you're doing a good job and how you've had a really successful first year... but day in and day out you're just constantly evaluating and reevaluating things you could have done better. Incoming corps members are at our school now and thinking about it makes me smile - I get a glimps of how absolutely clueless and wide-eyed I was a year ago and compare that to the relatively confident and excited teacher I am now. I fell like a teacher, whereas before I felt like somebody who was just trying their absolute best to help kids learn. There is so much I want to improve on this next year and so much that I want to continue to grow in.

Mindset and Perspectives
Moving here has sort of made me realize the bubble I had lived in before. The south, and in particular Texas/Oklahoma, is soo different than here. Sometimes I miss the south a lot though - it seems so comforting to me now. Being around different people and different perspectives has been really beneficial, I think. It's so much different than simply visiting places too, because the time spent in the new environment allows you to challenge your own thoughts on life. I feel like I'm the same person, just a bit more well-rounded in my views now.

Experiences
Um, I went to Ireland this year!? (Thanks for hosting me, Megan!) What and awesome experience to look back on! I survived my first New England winter! Not really an awesome experience... but nonetheless, one to kind of be proud of haha. I got to be a super-tourist: New Years Eve in Times Square (Thanks for coming, ladies!), Broadway shows (Avenue Q, 9-5, Wicked, Chicago, In the Heights, Phantom of the Opera, Hair) NYC Philharmonic, the Met Opera, Alvin Ailey Dancers, chillin in Central Park/Prospect Park/the Promenade/Pier 1, walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island Ferry/Statue of Liberty, etc. Sometimes I forget how many cool things I've gotten to do this year - some on a casual basis, others very exciting. Life has been good to me - that's for sure. Additionally, I feel like I know the city a lot better... and yet, there is still so much more to explore! :)

It's been a crazy year. It's been a good year. I predict this next year will be even better.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

1 Year Anniversary

one year ago today I moved to NYC

this year has probably made more of an impact on me than any other year in my life. every other change in life seemed to be an extension of the phase that came before it. this year has given a lot of things to me, but it has also challenged me and changed me in many really positive ways, i think.

the end of the school year is kind of crazy.

wrapping up grad school (ugh)

toooons of celebrations and whatnots to attend (woohoo!)

i'm soooo looking forward to the summer. it will be as fun as these nails!
(mine = orange; heather = green)

5 more days!!! 5 more days!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

winding down...

9 days of work.
8 days with kids.
6 days of instruction. (2 are field days! woohoo)

Year 1 almost done.

Everything's winding down.

Reflection time...
(blog coming soon)


Sunday, June 6, 2010

a little bit of nature

Before I start I would just like to say that EVERYBODY NEEDS TO BLOG!!! (except Alisha - you've been good!) It helps me keep up with your lives and it makes me happy. Make today the day - start your blogging again!

Also... do you know how amazing Zip cars are?! They are the best thing maybe ever. I'm so glad I'm a zipster. If you live in a city with zip cars (and you don't have a car yourself) you should totally do zip cars!

Speaking of... last weekend we got a car and went to the Appalachian Mountains! It was a chance to get out of the city, revisit Pawling (love Pawling) and get into some nature.

I'll admit, I was a bit nervous about driving in the city... but it wasn't bad!

We don't have any pictures of the really woodsy parts, but here are some pictures from the trip (provided by Heather - thanks!)
You have NO idea how hard it is to actually find this place... haha We felt very proud.

This would have been a cute picture...
if I wasn't swatting away a bug. I put it up here to show my love/hate relationship with nature. I love it... but I hate the bugs and grossness that comes along with it.

Its amazing that some people go all the way up these mountains... part of me would like to do it some day, but I honestly don't think I could handle it.

It was supposed to rain all day but it didn't actually start raining (and by raining I mean torrential pour) until we were getting ice cream from an adorable local dairy place. Lucky us.

Also, while driving around we found a HUGE abandoned psychiatric hospital that I wanted to endlessly explore and the most precious boarding school for boys. Pretty neat.

And then Natalie and I (and for a little bit Alison) laid out at Pier 1... not the home goods store. Its part of the new extension to the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Now, I do wish I had a pool to dip in... but you gotta admit, this is a pretty cool view.
(And next time we'll keep in mind that the sun is a serious thing... put the sun screen on right away. haha)

The countdown: 15 more days of work. 13 more days with kids.

Monday, May 31, 2010

kiddos

Here are some pictures of the kids I teach at our field trip last week.

My bus buddy: Lorenzo (sweetest kid EVER!)
Nisah's group.
A big rock!!!
Me and Dillion eating lunch under a tree.
These two love each other more than anybody I've ever known. So sweet.
Learning about pond life.
One of my coworkers and his kids. (so cute!)

19 more days... becoming bittersweet.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

passion

note: not a typical blog post
disclaimer: i want to emphasize that I am very happy... just very 'reflective' at the moment

I feel like I have two main passions in my life: music and people.

Music:
The capabilities of music to effect any given situation astounds me. I run harder and longer when a good beat is running with me. I feel more emotion when the music draws it from me. I watch with greater understanding when music, subtle as it may be, adds to the background. I dance with greater joy when movement is inspired by rhythm. I understand people unknown to me when their lyrics sing for them. I feel at home when I am playing. I feel incredibly connected when I am playing with others. Music is where I succeed. Music is where I am passionate.

People:
It goes almost without saying that people define any situation you find yourself in. Given the wrong situation with right people, it still turns out to be pretty positive most times; given the perfect situation in solitude, or with ‘the wrong people’, the joy of that situation is ruined. I have been incredibly blessed to have amazing people in my life who I would gladly die for. Through and with those people I have experienced trust – respect – pure joy – and love.

I feel like for several years I put music as my #1 priority (and ‘people’ was a very close 2nd). I was happy… but I felt defined by my passion. I felt out of balance, and I couldn’t gain that balance while maintaining the level of dedication to music that I wanted to have. It was a battle, and I forfeited.

Then people became my #1 priority. I enjoyed my friendships like I never had before my whole life. I felt balanced. I fell in love. I was genuinely happy (this is not to say that I wasn’t happy before… it just wasn’t as genuine). I felt like I was released. However, during this time I didn’t feel the drive and success as I had in other times in my life.

Now what? I’m not even sure what I would say my #1 priority is… because it seems to come without passion. My passions in life remain the same yet in terms of my priorities, people seem to be a distant 2nd and music an even more distant 3rd. I’m still very happy… just not as genuinely so.

Tonight, I miss my passionate life. I am very happy and I am loving the life that I am experiencing… but part of it seems to be missing. Part of me seems to be missing.

Am I off balance? Am I just becoming an “adult”? Am I in the right place? (NY – yes. Teaching?...) Will I ever find another OUPS? Will I feel like I did with him, again? Isn’t a passionate life supposed to be a happy one? And a successful one?

Where can I find my trifecta: passionate, happy, and successful?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dance Parade!

One of the many reasons I love NY is the numerous and random festivals. There is always something going on! This last Saturday was the Dance Parade!!! There was a parade and then a festival at a park around East Village/Alphabet City and it was filled with tons of different dance troupes. i LOVED it. Everybody performing and watching just seemed to be enjoying themselves. Myself (and Alison) included!

Alison!
(behind her are people dancing on that rope... like in the circus... they were very impressive)

My favorite outfit of the day. By far.

Everybody loves a video montage...
video

Oh, and can I just mention that this was my view for my afternoon run today?
(Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, lady liberty, beautiful spring weather, and all as sun falls?! amazing... but the photo doesn't seem to do it justice)

Speaking of which... Happy Birthday Brooklyn Bridge!!!

And tomorrow = field trip to Prospect Park. (amazing)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

update

Wow... I'm long over due for an update!

1. Mardi Gras
I wanted to take more pictures of this night so I could blog about it... but that didn't happen. But - I had some people over for Mardi Gras and it was a lot of fun! I think it made my apartment feel more like a home to have people over. And I love weekday gatherings. And for those who attended: 3-2-1 :)

2. Teach For America Benefit Dinner
My sponsors for "TFA Sponsor a Teacher" invited me and other teacher to sit at their table for the annual benefit dinner. It was really valuable to get the big picture - to once again feel a part of a larger movement. I am not just a single teacher working hard every day - I am part of a national effort for change and equality of opportunity.

3. Teacher Appreciation Week's Grand Finale: Karaoke Night
Have I mentioned enough how much I LOVE the people I work with? It is quite literally the best group of coworkers I could imagine. Teacher appreciation week was filled with thoughtful cards, TONS of food (btw - did you know how good Jamaican food is? Because its amazing), and was topped off with an open bar karaoke night. Amazing. Everybody singing, dancing, and just cutting loose. Here are some pictures to highlight the night:


4. Loving springtime in NYC
I wish that everybody that visited me during the winter could have a redo in the spring/summer. I didn't realize how depressed winter had made me and how much less fun the city is during the winter. I'm starting to feel more and more like I know the city while still constantly being surprised by it and finding great new things to explore. This city is amazing... will 5 years even be enough?!

5. Great friends of past and present
I've been missing old friends a lot lately. Sometimes I wish that everything was just how it used to be. It's hard to keep in touch in a meaningful way... I need a reunion. I feel like everybody is so far away and doing so many different things...

I'm so grateful for my new friends, too though! It can be really hard to move to a new place where you don't really know anybody - and I've been really lucky. Here are some highlights of recent things with NYC friends:

playing pool while waiting for our table at this great roof-top Mexican restaurant by my house!
Going out with the ladies
JUXTAPOSITION!!!!! ;)
LOVE the promenade
6. This time last year...
Its hard to imagine how much has changed since this time last year. (Special shout out to all the 2010 grads!!! CONGRATS!!!!) How different life was... how differently I thought about things... the different experiences I had and now hope to have... Life is a crazy adventure. Its good to take a moment to look back at all that it gives you.

7. 29 more days...
There are 29 more instructional days in the school year. 29 days... I don't even know how to think about it, really. I've learned sooo much and I've worked so hard but in a much different way than ever before in my life. The end is near...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Washington, DC

Last weekend I went to DC round trip for $2.50!!!! And the bus shows movies and has plugs and wifi! Now that I know about this MegaBus amazing-ness its going to be hard not to make more frequent trips! I had such an awesome time!!

My friend Mina moved to DC a few months ago and I decided to visit her! Mina is a friend from high school so its amazing how much we still connect all these years later! I love her to death - aaaaand it was her BIRTHDAY! (Happy Birthday Mina!)

We brunched, we wandered, we frolicked, we drank. I had a lovely time! It was a great "mini-vaca".

I felt like DC was basically a more "home-town" version of NY. All the big city appeal but with a much calmer, cleaner, prettier, more open feel! Georgetown was soooo precious and the cupcakes really are amazing!
I also LOVED the market area we went to - only confirming my need to visit high quality markets more!

All these important monuments and buildings kept popping out of nowhere! It was crazy kinda haha.

I really loved DC. and I really loved hanging out with Mina!

I'm going back for 4th of July and super excited about it! Where better to celebrate our nation's birthday than in our nation's capital?!

Aaaand here is a picture of my new favorite bar in Brooklyn. All outdoors. Great margs. Have I mentioned I love NY? ;)

Oh and do you remember The Sandlot? Because I just rediscovered how AMAZING it its!

Monday, April 12, 2010

picnics and parks

Spring in New York has made me appreciate park life more than ever before! I absolutely love going to the park to read, play, relax, etc. Our picnic featured...
- koolaid (do you remember that?! next time, wine... more grown up i guess haha)
- various fruits
- bread and cheese
- (melted) easter candy/bunnies
-bananagrams (one of my new favorite games)
- boggle
-bubbles!!!
- the game where you have a velcro pad on your hand and play catch with a tennis ball... forget the name, but super fun!

Saturday, lots of people came for a day of fun in the park! We had snacks, games, catching up... overall fun! Here are some pictures, featuring my new picnic basket and blanket!!

Me + park

Alison + picnic spread
(don't worry - the bubbles are spill proof. made for kids!)
(see that velcro ball game?)

Goodbye park - see you soon!
(isn't my basket adorable?!)

NYC + spring = AMAZING

LYMI

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ireland!

A few months ago, Mike Olson, my grandpa passed away - I'll always remember him as a loving, kind man who enjoyed life in simple ways. After he passed, I inherited some money and took this trip in his memory.

Ireland was amazing! Two main reasons:

1. The people
- Megan! It was so great to see a little bit of Megan's life! I really miss her a lot and it was great to get to experience the beautiful life she's living over there!
- Kristi and Kat: two of Megan's friends who I got to hang out with - I love meeting new people and these girls were tons of fun to make the trip with!
- Mark and Ben: two friends who are from Dublin who I haven't seen since we studied together in France. It was amazing how despite how little time we spent together over there and how much time had passed between how much we connected right away. :) These guys are seriously two of the best out there, and I was so happy to get to see them again!
- The Irish: a country full of incredibly friendly, "no worries" people. I was consistently impressed with the Irish.

2. The landscape:
- Truly a gorgeous country. Rolling hills, furry green grass, beautiful cliffs, etc. Driving around was great - especially coming from this "concrete jungle". :)

Highlights of Ireland

Cork, Ireland - I loved getting to see Megan's life! Cork was a lovely city - great craic. :)

We rented a car and drove all over the country! Here is a beautiful rainbow that appeared after a very typical bit of rain! haha If you look hard enough, there's a pot of gold... ;)

A great view of the shore from Old Head.

Megan and I at the Cliffs of Moher.

Kat and I went to Blarney Castle. We kissed the Blarney Stone and now have the gift of eloquence!

I spent the last two days in Dublin. The city kind of surprised me - I expected it to be bigger and more like New York for some reason. It was actually pretty small - easy to walk around and see in a few days.

Enjoyed a pint of Guinness at the Storehouse. :)

Went out to Temple Bar to grab some drinks with Mark/Ben. We ended up having too much fun to call it quits and I grabbed my stuff from the hostel and we caught the last train out to Marks. Good times held by all.

Gorgeous country. Wonderful people.
Can't stop smiling :)