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.

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.