Monday, December 31, 2007

Out with the old, in with the new

AS my last post of 2007, I want to keep it simple and just say:

Happy New Year!!!

Have fun, be safe, and here's to a chance for a fresh start.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


I'm looking through my stuff from college and the last half of it, and I came across my notebooks from writing class. Wow, what a treat! It's really hard believing I was this idealistic back then in my "college days." It's actually good I came across them because it's a good reminder of why I started doing what I'm doing, and they have a whole new meaning now that I've been through the ideal that I've been through with teaching and everything. I was less angry, if you can believe that. I was more excited about it too. Still, the idea comes up that I was only excited about the IDEA of teaching and having my own class. In reality, I enjoy doing what I'm doing now I whole lot more than I enjoyed teaching, so maybe that's just where I am and where I need to be right now. I will bring these notebooks back to Minneapolis with me and try to use some of these ideas in my new teaching situation. Like hte following, from my Writing Workshop book. I must have written this quote down for a reason? Right?

"If you teach kids nothing about writing all year, teach them how to re-read their writing." --the Writer's Workshop Book

And a thought I wrote down after leading a couple of WWs.

"I have not been telling my students to re-read their writing, but that's only because of time constraints. It seems like by the time they get their ideas down, its time to move on with the day." --Me

All reasons I wanted my own classroom so badly. But when I got my own classroom, I fell completely to peices. Now I enjoy NOT having my own classroom and just doing pull-out writing/reading mini-lessons.

All of these thoughts do lead to the main question that this post was leading up to...ready for it?

WHERE DO I BELONG in the teaching world?

If you can answer that, you will earn my eternal love and devotion. Because I have no money to give right now.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mulan, Kareoke style

Courtesy of none other than YouTube, of course. I LOVE this song. Go ahead, sing at the top of your lungs!

I also think that Mulan and Disney have a lot to teach us about ourselves. Me, I'm making this a personal resolution to be more like myself this year. Not the idiot me,just the me I would like to be. I'm no longer trying to be someone else.

Summer in Ohio

From THE LAST 5 YEARS. This is my new obsession. Are you going slightly batty 40 miles east of Cinncanatti? I know that's kind of a metaphor for my holiday week at home. I'm 35 miles west of Atlanta, and while I do have access to cable and the web, I don't have a sense of independence, which is why I moved to MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA. I love this song because it shows how desparate I feel right now. I'm also a little angry for reasons I have only yet to figure out. So bear with me, and I will figure something out. Maybe I AM doing something right!

David Blaine, YouTube Style

If you have ever watched DB, you must see these. Absoulutely helarious parodies of the man's street magic.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday time means...

Movie time!

Two great ones I saw this year are Atonement and P.S. I Love You. I recommend them both highly. But only in that order. Heavy, then light. Always the way to go.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just a fun camp song...

that is pretty appropriate as of late. (Sing it to the tune of Moon River and you'll be laughing out loud in no time at all. Don't worry, no one is judging you for singing out loud to yourself. Have fun with it!

Chopped Liver, onions on the side
my social life has died, from me
my friends shun me, they out-run me,
the smell of my breath, is slow death, sad but true
My odors' twice as bad as beer,
and people who drink beer agree,
I know that my breath will not end,
always I'll offend, my halitosis friends
Chopped liver, in me.

There are a lot of times lately...

That I feel like the guy (or girl) that wrote THIS.

Spelling Bee!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I'm taking a true risk here..

...and might delete this shortly after I post this, but I was feeling vulnerable that night and thought I needed to let off some steam. I'm just not sure the whole world needs to see it. Here goes; comments welcome.

December 22, 2007

I never realized how much I rely on others for support and kind words of support until today, really. I do know I've always felt good when others have told me how much I rock, but I was told today that I am the other half of two of the teachers I work with at school. As great as it made me feel to know this and to know that I'd been supporting people and they actually recognize this and appreciate it, I do have to say, if I'm one half of two people, where is the part for me?

Both halves of me are going to two people, so what am I lacking? Me time? Time to support myself? Why do I do this in every work and personal life situtation I enter? Is it self-esteem? Do I really think I suck that badly to martyr myself out so badly to every person I meet?

I really have to start thinking this way, don't I? I really have to start creating time for myself. I really have to start making myself a priority. New Year's Resolution anyone? I love New Year's Resolutions! No, actually, I hate them. But they are quite necessary, and the first of the year (particularly being my birth month) is a good time to start. I can't say that no longer will I be a slave to anyone else. For I thrive on being of service to those arround. Perhaps that is why I joined a National Service Program?

I'm asking a lot of questions here, and I don't expect answers right away. I begin my 26th year in two weeks. I propose a toast to me. Whitney Houston said it first (though maybe not best?) when she said "I've found the Greatest Love of All inside of me..." and I think there is an element of truth to the fact that the the greatest love of all is indeed learning to love oneself. I propose that my 26th year is a year I commit to that love, or the persuit of it at least. Geez, it's about time, isn't it?

I'm listening to the song now. It's really quite meaningful to my situtation now, please don't laugh. But "Let the children't laughter remind us of how we used to be..."

I am a teacher dangit. I need to take some cues from children and learning to be a little more carefree. Less self-conscious, less self-aware. My self-awareness is my greatest gift and my greatest curse at times.

and "Everyone searching for a hero, people need someone to look up to..."

I've been doing this with teachers from the time I was ten. Teachers modeled for me what I was supposed to be like. But I fear I transposed the the role to be like, and sometimes I try to be them, and get discouraged when I can't be them. How silly is that?

Of course I can't be them! I look up to them, even the teachers I work with now, but they certainly aren't better than me, and I need to learn to focus on that a little more. I am beautiful alone, by myself, and just me. I can be LIKE whomever I feel like being LIKE, but I must stop there and not try to BECOME anyone else but the me I want to be.

In short, I'm going to try to love life a little more. Enjoy myself in the presence of others. Heck, I would like to become the LEADING LADY of my own life, instead of the best friend in the movie version of my life.

26, 2008. New me. No, not a new me, just a better me. Just me.

I'm copying posts from my journal over at

You should check it out. It's just a small way I cope with my anxiety. And yes, I'm choosing to go public with it. I've been journaling like this for years, but I think it's finally time to come out of the closet and get some support this way.

Wednesday December 12, 2007

Who am I and where do I belong?

Those are the thoughts that seem to keep resurfacing lately.

Who am I and where do I belong?

They come up in every situation I enter.

Work, school, (school is work), socializing, friends. I don't deserve to be here. I don't deserve this life. So many other people could do this job better than I could. Why am I here and what is my purpose? Does someone care to elaborate? Does anyone relate? I feel like I never belong!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ok, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be

It never really is, is it? Or is that the couple of glasses of wine speaking? Probably a little of both at hand. No, I'm not happy with the way I look or act or generally where I am in life right now. But no, that doesn't mean I have to take it out on the people around me. Regardless of what they are thinking (and it's not fair to assume anything) they are cool people in different stages of life. Maybe I am a little jealous. Of both generations. I'm jealous of the cousins who still have the majority of their college lives ahead of them. I'm jealous of their fresh, clean slate. I'm also jealous of the older generation who has their life figured out, as well. I, in a small way, would like to be there. Settled, and done with it all and out of this twenty-something miserable questioning existence. Maybe I don't mean that. Maybe I really do mean that the pain is the journey and I should just relish it and enjoy the journey as the great part of life. Maybe I should just stop thinking about it so much. Maybe it should be left alone for a while. Who knows? Maybe I will write a bad holiday song like The Story of the American Duggans to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies and actually make a little dough off of it. Long story. Weed anyone?

I do this to myself EVERY year

Why? I don't look good enough/dress trendy enough/and I'm not thin enough, who's going to love me now? I don't have a cool job and I don't live in a cool place so who really wants to be around me. Merry Christmas...bah humbug...happy Christmas Eve. Is it bad that I just want to get this whole Christmas Eve extended family thing over with? I know what every one is thinking...I wish they'd just have the balls to come out and say it and forget this whole charade ever existed. No, I'm not married or close to it. No, I don't want babies anytime soon. No, I'm not my high school weight, but yes, I actually am eating now, so go screw something. No, I don't know what I'm doing next year and yes, I want to move far far away (like, across the globe) until I'm 40 and don't actually have to put up with this crap anymore. Is life after college supposed to be this rough? Or am I making it more so?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Another blast from the past...

As I browse back through my google documents, I was looking at some of my old journal entries from the beginning of NCCC. I thought I'd post it here.

2:55 p.m.

Today was another long day of in-processing bullshit. We got our uniforms in the morning, and we moved swiftly through the in-processing checklist to travel reimbursements to banking to lunch and ID badges. Half of the morning stuff I didn’t need, so I just kinda sat there while others talked, which I did all of yesterday as well sorta came to the conclusion that people like to hear themselves talk just for the sake of talking. I’m in my room now, for a brief couple of hours, until we have to go back to the 202 building for boot sizing at 4:30. I’m totally stoked we get to wear steel-toed work boots. I’ e never done anything where they were a requirement before, so of course I’m going to be stoked.

Getting to know my team a little better as well. This could potentially be a very good experience. I have a feeling that there will be 1 or 2 (probably girls) that I will end up being close to and the others will just be there. I know I am a person that takes a while before I warm up to everyone and right now I’m falling into my “quiet girl” mode. I want to break out of that role badly, but I know it will take some time. So far everyone is really nice. I also know that tonight after boot sizing we’re off to some “group bonding” activity Maggie has planned for us. Sounds interesting in theory, but I know I’ll probably end up putting my emotional guard up and not share anything. It’s probably going to be one of those group initiative thing that I hate any way. Who knows? We shall find out later.

I suppose I can go and list my team members and first impressions now. Maybe in ten months I can go back and reassess, because they will, most likely, will have changed.

Our team leader Maggie seems really sweet and excited to be here. Really excited and enthusiastic, though I’m wondering how long the fa├žade will last. Certainly a person cannot keep things going for as long as ten months, without one gigantic happy pill. There has got to be an evil side to her, and I’m wondering when we will see it and how long it’ll last. Maggie also keeps saying how tired she is and how she hasn’t slept that much, but when ever we ask her a question she’s right on the ball, so I don’t get it. I totally trust her with my documents and paperwork, and believe she will be an amazing leader this year.

Interesting reading, now that I'm a year and a half removed from the whole situation.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Geography quiz

I just did the state count and realized I've been to approximately 26 states in my lifetime thus far. I'm pushing 26 years old, so I guess this means that I've been to roughly a state in a year. Not to shabby, eh? And when did I start talking like a Canadian, eh? How many states have you been to?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

To many...

decisions, resolutions, changes, year-end general cleaning up and maintenance to do. No, I don't want to go to grad school if I'm not truly sure it is what I want to do. But I don't want my two years worth of education award from AmeriCorps to go to waste either.

No, sitting home ALONE on a Saturday night does not usually lead to good thoughts about anything, particularly not such heady things as what my future will hold in three or four years from now. But I think, because that's what I do. I think and then I write. And it's not always coherent writing. But that's OK.

Do the JET Programme? Sure, I certainly know two people that have done it and loved every minute of it. And I certainly know someone in Japan too! It might be cool to be close to my long time pen pal again. But it's such a risk! I can do it, and there shouldn't be anything to loose there, and it would be quite the experience.

I need to gather more information.

That's the bottom line here people. More information needed.

Is it sad when...

19 degrees is considered warm?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The first ninety days

I'm posting something someone at work e-mailed me a while back that I just got around to reading, because it is insanely interesting. I'll comment on it when others do. I agree with parts of this article, other parts I do not agree with. Let me know your thoughts. I'll chime in with more later.

Here's the article, courtesy of

Ninety Days

When you accept a new job, you don't know who you are going to work with, what you are going to be doing, and how much (or little) you're going to like it. Call everyone you want. Ask their opinions. Trust the fact that a good friend referred you for the gig. Revel in the idea that the company has a good pedigree, but don't delude yourself that in a smattering of interview hours that you're going to have anything more than a vague hint of your new life.

Try this. Tell me about your best friend. Give me a bulleted list of five noteworthy things you think I should know about your best friend. Got it? Read it out loud. Does this do justice to your best friend? I hear you when you say, "He'd do anything for me", but why is that? Why is he protective of you? What's the story behind the bullet? That's what I want to know.

Each person in your new team has a story they want to tell you and it's never a bulleted list. Some are going to freely give this story whereas others will carefully protect the fact they even have a story, but until each person you need to work with has shared this story with you (and vice versa), the interview isn't over. The jury is out and you won't know if this new job that you've begun is actually your job.


Your first job is to relax. Like the first day of school, you're going to overcompensate in your first day, your first week. Most people do not lay their clothes out the night before they go to work. You're doing this to calm yourself. Those clothes neatly laid out at the end of your bed are a visual reminder that you have control over this thing that you can't control.

Relax. There's an industry standard regarding the amount of time it takes to make a hire and it's ninety days. New managers hate when I tell them this because they're so giddy they've got a new requisition and BOY WATCH HOW FAST I CAN HIRE. Yes, yes. I appreciate your velocity, but I'm not going to worry about your hire for ninety days.

This chunk of time applies to your new job as well. You've got ninety days — three months — to finish your job interview. Draw an a X on a calendar ninety days from now. Make it a physical act that reminds you to relax and to listen rather than fret about what you don't know. The new team isn't going to trust you until you stop laying out your clothes, until you stop being deliberate.

I know you've done this before: you've had five other jobs and you have well refined people assessment instincts. Except, well, they're biased. These instincts are based on where you've been and you have never been here before. My suggestion is that the less you trust your instincts, the more you'll learn about your new job and that's why I wrote you a ninety days list:

#1) Stay late. Show up early. You need a map of the people you work with and I find the best way to start scribbling this map is to understand people and their relation to the day. When do they get there? How long until they engage in what they do? Coffee run? Wait, no. Late arriver. Doesn't leave until he gets something done. Makes his coffee run at 4:30pm. Doesn't drink coffee? Really? Why? These long days of watching give you insight and they give you tools for understanding what each of your team members want.

#2) Accept every lunch invitation you get. People are stretching themselves for you the first few weeks you show up. They're going to go out of their way to include you and no matter who they are, you've got to take the time to reciprocate. The lunch invite from that guy in the group you pretty sure you'll never interact with will result in stories and you have a stunning lack of stories right now.

#3) Always ask about acronyms. It's great that we're all speaking English, but why is it that you're sitting in your first staff meeting and not understanding a word? It's because every team develops acronyms, metaphors, and clever ways to describing their uniqueness which you must understand. Cracking the language nut is absolutely essential to assessing the hand you've been dealt and you're going to need to ask a couple of times.

#4) Say something really stupid. Good news, you're going to do this whether it's on this list or not. I'm saying it's ok. This stupid thing that you're going to say is going to demonstrate your nascent engagement in your job and when they stop giggling, the team is going to know you're desperately trying to figure it all out.

#5) Have a drink. Similar to the lunch task, but more valuable. No barrier is crossed when someone invites you to lunch, but when you get the drink invite, someone is saying, "C'mon. Let's go try a different version of honesty." Stories are revealed over drinks, not lunch.

Warning: the next three on the list are at the bottom for a reason. These are advanced moves that you don't want to attempt until you've built some confidence that if they go horribly wrong, you have some confidence that you won't permanently damage your still developing reputation. Read on.

#6) Tell someone what to do. Everything above this list is about listening and this task involves you saying something. More importantly, it involves you telling someone what to do. I don't know who you are telling or what you're saying, but the goal is to exert your influence, to test your influence. More importantly, to test your knowledge of the organization and see if this thing you have to say is true. Telling is the sound of your instincts aligning to this particular organization and this thing you are saying is your first bit of inspiration. Trust it. Tell the right person and realize that everyone was waiting for you to say it.

#7) Have an argument. This is the riskiest item on the list, but potentially the most revealing. There's a good chance when you pull a #6 that this is going to happen anyway. Again, what you are willing to argue about and who is going to be on the other side of the argument is a function of your situation. What you want to understand is how does the organization value conflict? Is it ok that you're digging your heels in? Do others engage in the argument? Who swoops in to save the day? Can these people argue without losing their shit? Does this team argue out in the open or do they use devious passive aggressive subtlety?

You're going to learn two valuable things during this professional battle. First, how does this group of people make a decision? Second, you're going to have a better taste of their passion and their velocity.

#8) Find your inner circle. In your arguments, lunches, drinks, and late nights, you're going to find kindred spirits. This is the short list of people who share your instincts. These are the ones who complete your sentences and they know your stories. These are the ones who welcome the argument because they know great decisions are made by many. Your inner circle is not exclusive because you'll go nowhere drawing relationship boundaries among the team. This is the list of people with whom you share your raw inspiration and your stories because you know they'll gleefully help refine them.

The discovery of your inner circle won't happen until time has passed. You'll instinctively be attracted to people who feel comfortable, who feel right, but they can't be in the inner circle until they've passed the test of time. They've got pass through the ninety day list a few times before you've heard enough stories to let them in.

Finishing the Interview

It's not just that you forgot to ask key questions during your initial interview process; it's that the person that you were walking into that interview isn't who you are. You're a resume, you're a referral, and you're a reputation.

Your job interview isn't over until you've asked all the questions and heard all of the stories.

Your job interview isn't over until you understand the unique structure that has formed around this particular group of people. It's not just the organizational chart, it's the intricate personalities which have settled into a comfortable, complex, communication structure.

Your job interview isn't over until you have a framework for how you are going interact with these people and that means understanding not only their goals, but also their invaluable personal quirks. What they tell you the first week has more to do with the fact that you're new than what they actually feel. What they tell you after ninety days is the truth.

Your job interview isn't over until you've changed to become part of a new team.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

This is the view from my back bedroom window...I am so screwed this winter

This is really funny

and reminds me why I hate the song this man is talking about.

Basking in the Glory...

of a 670 Quantitative GRE score today.

totally rocks my world. I swear I was going through this to just break 600, but I totally surprised myself and am proud of my hard work. 670? I hate standardized tests!

My verbal score was not so impressive. Only a 510. But that's because I'm working 50+ hour weeks and didn't have time to do my vocabulary flashcards like I had hoped.

All in all, a respectable score. As my mom puts it, "it's not like I"m applying to Harvard Law or anything." I'm hoping these scores are what I need to get into a decent state school in education or Spanish or music performance. I can't decide what I want to do when I grow up, but I feel like I have a little bit more control over my future. Go me. I'm so freakin' relieved that it's over now.

My writing scores come back in a few weeks, but I'm pretty sure I rocked the "analyze and argument" section.

Nellie Stone Johnson

If you go to my school's web site now, you will see a bunch of the kids that I work with. That group of red-shirts? That's them. I love those kids.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

All I want for Christmas...

Is for my car to be magically dug out of the snow itself. Or to get out of this fabulous state of Minnesota. Either one will work. I seriously just did my first snow shoveling of the winter (of my life, really) and wow! What a workout. And I didn't even shovel the sidewalks. I just shoveled my poor car out of the snow on the street so that I could go grocery shopping and not starve this week. And my wheels still ended up spinning and spinning and spinning. I do feel like I know the true definition of the phrase "I'm just spinning my wheels." Oh, which is another idiom I can take to Ms. P's fifth graders. They'll eat it up, which, consequently, is another figure of speech. I can't escape them. And unfortunately, I can't escape the snow or Minnesota. Pictures to come.

Yoga Today

I feel great, because of this:

A couple of sentiments, from PostSecret

Every Sunday I seem to find at least two of these cards that I identify with a little too much. Here's this week's two.

Courtesy of the people behind


Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'm ready for MY FIRST REAL WINTER, are you?

I just spent a ton of money on quality winter clothing for a more bearable winter season. Still not sure what I'm getting myself into. If you would like to see what I'm spending my hard-earned money buying, I'll post links.

A stunning, down-filled Ultrawarm HOODED Jacket, Periwinkle blue. Stylish.

Marled Mittens, from Urban Outfitters. Mmm Mmm warm.

And lastly, a Sherpa Ear flap Fleece Hat, from REI. I'm set.

A couple of my thoughts, YouTube style. Because YouTube can say it better than I can right now

Just my thoughts on life right now, watching my first REAL snowstorm of my life.

This is also appropriate: