Thursday, June 28, 2007


I got the apartment! :D
I am now an official resident of Methuen, MA.

Today I got to role play as a student in math classes here so the TA's could practice. Its so much fun to play with my cell phone, pretend not to understand fractions and get side tracked on a petition to include sun dried tomatoes in our diet. I wonder what interesting antics the actual students will engage in over the next several weeks.

Next step, convince the MA RMV to give me a driver's license. Ideally for less than $100, but sadly, I believe it costs an absurd $110.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Life is good, went out to staff dinner and reminisced about last summer with one of the other RA's who worked with me then. Its crazy hot today, and I hate air conditioning- too much contrast for me to adjust to quickly.

Philosophical Rant: (it got long so I felt it deserved a warning)

My friend who is doing Teach For America, called me tonight, crying and seeking advice. While I'm always happy to give advice, support and a virtual shoulder, I question a program that sends a member to someone who has one semester of teaching experience. The supervisors have 2 years of experience, and were taught by people with just as little experience. There is so much to be said for the advice of an expert in your field- 2 years in the field doesn't get you to expert status- in anything. I admire everything that TFA does- getting college students into the field of education, and staffing schools that need the most help. But where are the veteran teachers? Where are the administrators that have watched young teachers struggle?

In my summer program the TA's are trained by teachers who work in the classroom full time. They are introduced to a new teaching method by engaging in it and practicing it for a full week before students ever arrive. They have additional training each morning before class- but not at ridiculous hours, taking into consideration the other duties that the TA has. This is summer camp. Its not the end of the world if TA's get put on a strenuous schedule because it only lasts a month- but the directors know better than to do that. The program has been going on for over 25 years and the original directors are still teaching- veterans who can tell you what to expect and how to deal with frequent issues that occur.

If a small program can figure this out- why can't a big one? The camp is funded almost entirely by grants, it works with students labeled 'at risk' and it starts with TA's who know nothing about the unique teaching methods used here, and usually who know nothing about teaching in general. Really, its not so different at all from TFA. Except we're happy, I left camp last summer eager to continue using a method that I believed in, that I understood. Questions are encouraged, explanations are given. These are basic tenets of any program seeking to create independent individuals- why doesn't TFA do this? I was surprised to hear that my education professors disapproved of TFA- I now understand. It makes me want to fix TFA, or start a different program- with a bunch of people who actually know what they're doing. What it really makes me want is- a way to eradicate the need for TFA. Its awful that schools are so desperate for teachers that they are willing to take a team of unlicensed recent grads being trained by a team of recently licensed individuals.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I'm here, back at school, back in my dorm, back on a schedule and soon to be back to teaching.

Its weird, sad, exciting, different but the same. All my friends aren't living in the dorm anymore, but enough people have come to visit that its not terribly lonely and new. The other staff members seem nice, the other TA's are so young though! Who knew I'd think rising juniors seem young. The head resident is super organized, which is so helpful.

Today I went on an adventure. I was supposed to drive to a school in Amherst, but ended up traveling through lots of back roads into Shutesbury and Leverett and who knows where else. I did finally accomplish my goal of retrieving walkie-talkies! Yay toys that are somehow so much cooler than cell phones.

Tonight I play cards and contemplate the mathematical implications.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


So a few days ago I took down my profile which included a reference to me having a computer and too much time on my hands. I didn't think it was a particularly accurate description. Apparently I was very wrong- I spent the evening browsing different 'green' blogs (GreenPa and CrunchyChicken, for example) and found a cool pattern for knitting a bag with plastic bags. Since I happened to be sitting on the couch with scissors, a plastic bag and a crochet hook, I had to try it. Now I have a square of crocheted plastic, and, I'm hooked! (punny ;) ) Seriously though, its not much harder than yarn, and if my hook/needles were wood I bet it would be the same. The square I have is flexible, a funky texture and is super durable (especially compared to the bag I made it from- already had several holes!). It has holes, so it wouldn't contain water, but no worries if it got wet, and clearly quite stain proof. The writing on the original bag promises to make an interesting design, as would alternating different color plastics. Cutting directions here.

Now I have 3 crochet projects going on at once. And I start camp Saturday. The blanket's scraggly ends are waiting until a chilly night in the new apartment (somewhere...). I may bring the pillow along to alternate with the new form, so I'm not the crazy girl who makes plastic bags with plastic bags. Maybe the other RA/TA's will be developing eco-friendly dwellers like myself.

I made pumpkin muffins today. Tomorrow I will have a muffin for breakfast and be reminded of MHC.

Now, time to poke at my plastic square- its squishy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

license to teach

As of yesterday, I am a fully licensed teacher! The Mass. Dept. of Educ. reviewed my paperwork, deemed me responsible and capable of teaching math to 8-12th graders. They printed the letter today, its not even in the mail, but by the wonders of the internet I already know! Through further world wide web tricks I re-routed my mail to reach me at camp so that I can see my pretty license before August.

It also made me smile to read the network statistics for MHC on facebook. Most frequently listed interest: reading. Oh Mount Holyoke.

depressed activist

Went to Radio Shack today to buy new batteries for the cordless phones. They don't make that kind of battery any more, the 2 year old phones are outdated. Plus, batteries cost more than a new phone, batteries included. The old phones are trash- they're useless without batteries, no one wants the phones even though they work perfectly. So now we put 2 handsets, bases, cords and electricity converters into the land fill to hang out for who knows how many years.

Then I came home to an email suggesting I watch this video. It was a little upsetting to say the least.

The next email in my inbox was from Grist, telling me that China now is now the biggest polluter in the world (beating out the US by 8%), but the reason is that the US is now outsourcing manufacturing there. That means lots of use of fuel for travel, plus all the dirty energy there.

In other news, found an apartment in Methuen that I love. But I had to apply for affordable housing and won't know for a few weeks if I got it. Four years of college and a licensure program get me a salary that qualifies for affordable housing? In fact, I might not even make enough to qualify to live in this complex. Education is important, isn't it?

The world is yucky today.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

productive day

Today has been a day of accomplishment. I scheduled tours at 3 apartment complexes for Monday. I nearly finished my scrap book (from high school, but it had to get done someday). My car survived a hail storm. Bought glue sticks to finish the scrap book and a pillow filler to make a matching pillow for my recently completed (yay!) blanket. Then I taught myself how to crochet ripples. In the process I found a pattern for a cell phone case with nipples... almost as strange as the freeform crocheter. It takes all kinds!

Yesterday I went to a tag sale and got a grater, butter dish, matching vase and tupperware. All for $2! I'm making some progress on the overwhelming list of items I need. I also packed up everything I want to take from this house except some books that I need to throw in a box.

Tonight I will finish the scrapbook and pack books. Then everything will be done and I can feel free to spend all my time tangled in yarn :D.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Okay, so I'm going to turn into a housewife gushing about all my new toys for the kitchen over the next few months. But I really am really excited about my pots. They're blue and non-stick and sturdy and good sizes. They also came with lots of utensils- spatula, ladles, strainer and fork! All plastic of course, to not injure the non-stick-ness.

I had a minor panic attack today when I went to four different stores and couldn't find the yarn I need to finish the blanket I'm making. My mom finally found a very similar yarn that will be good enough to use for the back. I just have to decide if I want a border or not. If buying yarn is this much of a headache I could skip it. Since its my blanket and I made up the pattern it can look like whatever I want! Hmph.

Tonight I work on that while staring at my pots and dreaming up the rest of my apartment. Now if only I had a new place to put all these things...

Monday, June 11, 2007


Yesterday I went white water rafting on the Deerfield River. We were concerned that overcast skies and cool temperatures might make the day unpleasant rather than thrilling. Happily, it warmed up enough that the frigid water felt shocking, but not painful, and we dried off quickly enough not to get chilled. I almost fell out of the boat, twice. One time got caught on film! The photo sequence looks about like this:
1. everyone smiling and rowing calmly
2. everyone shocked as the boat goes over a big dip
3. my leg sticking out of the boat
4. me falling into my friend's lap as she pulls me back into the boat
5. everyone smiling and rowing calmly
After that I figured out that its better to lean towards the middle of the boat and sit in an awkward position than practice good posture. The class IV rapids were crazy and exhilarating. I was o so very happy not to be in charge of steering the boat. Our guide was very competent though, and the worst that happened was me almost falling out. Lots of other boats actually had people fall out, sometimes even all three people on a side!

I still haven't figured out where I'm living next year. Now we've thrown NH in the mix too. Salem, NH is 15 minutes away from Lawrence as we found out when searching for a nearby Christmas Tree Shop. I'm not sure that the advantages of buying a car with no sales tax outweigh the advantages of living 2 minutes from school, and in the same city as my students. But I do like the idea of having a shopping mall 15 minutes north- tax free and away from traffic.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

moving forward

A two page letter of reasons why I'm making a mistake was not the greatest of things to wake up to, but the day got much better from there. This morning I made phone calls to people I hadn't talked to in a while. Then this afternoon I actually left the house with a friend, got some shopping done and looked at pretty things. I can't wait to decorate my future apartment and find a reason to justify the purchase of a basket from the Philippines (bamboo baskets just have to be useful!). We also played with toys- a necessity to any shopping trip- children today have such fancy things! Diaries these days don't come with a key to wear around your neck, but a voice activated password. My diary was one of those blue books that I now associate with exams. And, some of the games we played as kids are now labeled as 'classics' or 'original version.' Geez that makes me seem old. At least watching SNL from '75 made me feel young- but it wasn't funny so I don't think I missed much.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I picked Lawrence, and life is not going so smoothly on the home front. I'm excited though, as are my co-workers and friends (especially the one who loves Dominican food). Next steps- apartment and car.

I have now gathered all of the recipes my mother uses into one convenient 3-ring-binder. I feel accomplished! I also got out on a bike ride today, double accomplishment!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

office job

In case I was ever worried about feeling office withdrawal, this weekend will take care of it. I usually spend my summers working as an office assistant, but am not home often enough to do that this year. Instead, I spent my entire day photocopying, without getting paid! There were great benefits to the work though, food for next year. I'm photocopying my mom's recipe book so I'll be all set to cook for myself. Nothing makes you hungry like reading about delicious foods, my stomach is growling now just remembering.

Still haven't officially decided where the next section of my life will be spent. No pressure, just a clock ticking and people I don't want to talk to giving me advice and asking questions. I like talking to most people, its just hard to get advice from people who don't think that I should be teaching in the first place. I'll figure it out, I have to.