There's a fine layer of yellow pollen on everything outside. It makes the world look dusty and oddly dull under the bright, bright sun and clear sky; well, not everything, just the stationary objects. It feels like a new photoshop effect, Crisp Mammals.

Indoors looks normal enough. There's a couple of couches, a dog curled up in what was clean laundry, the politically correct world map (proper surface area scale) and the scary-looking shadow that the jade plant projects on the wall. There's also me. I can see my belly protruding a little farther than it did a few months ago. I did a bit of stress eating while I was finishing up my student teaching and portfolio, and then I did some stress eating while I started to face what to do with my future. No nutella was safe. I'm not sure whether I'm done yet.

Right now I'm putting together job applications. Just last week a few positions sprang up in my general vicinity and I'm excited about getting back to teaching. Apprehensive, too. It's all taking longer than I thought it would, gathering transcripts and writing letters. It doesn't help that I feel like my time is never my own. It's an understandable side effect of being unemployed, that everyone assumes I'm free to do whatever they want me to do. For the most part I'm happy to help, I'm healthier when I'm busy. Lately I've been helping my mother look for a new place to live. She's moving to be near my sister and me now that she's retired. So I'm also dealing with the whole box of crazy that my mother inspires.

*deep breath*

I'm supposed to be practicing/ learning mindfulness (I know how contradictory this sentence is). There's a lot about it that resonates with me, intellectually and emotionally. I can see it becoming a powerful ally, or a fundamental muscle. There's a layer of peace that I experience alongside all the anxiety that is closely related to acceptance. I've just never learned to focus that peace inward. Even the thought of it makes me short circuit a little. Acceptance of me? Hmmmmm...

brown paper packages

Because I tend to forget the little things, the happy random moments and comments, I figure I should write some of them down.

In Thursday's ESL class, I had my students listen to a little presentation on St. Patrick's Day to try to explain the green-tinted craziness that was about to take over Boston and its environs. Somehow this led to a discussion on corned beef recipes, and before I knew it one of the ladies offered to bring in her corned beef to Monday's class and someone else said she'd bring rice, and after that it was all a chorus of flan and cake and who knows what else. So now we have ourselves a little party planned. :)

On Friday I had a girl get up out of her seat during Physics class to show me her electronic tuner (for orchestra) and ask me something about it, but then she stopped half way up to me because she got it. She sat back down saying she finally understood how the thing worked, and why tuning instruments worked and she was just beaming. Then someone else said, "Isn't it great when that happens?", and I realized that most of the time I have no clue what's going on in those teenage minds and I have to acknowledge that sometimes they're bored and tuned out but sometimes they're having their own transformative moment and for the most part I'll never know. And it's all fine. It's just my job to give them those opportunities.
Twenty minutes later, as if The Universe felt I needed the lesson reinforced, a girl who spends most of her time with her head on her desk (but looking at me) stopped by on her way out the door to tell me she's thinking she may want to do physics in college and wants to talk about whether she could combine that with chemistry and what kind of jobs she could get. The fact that she's a first generation immigrant from the DR just makes it sweeter, and tied up in string.

changing gears

I'm on vacation this week and I don't quite know what to do with myself. It's been a long time since I had something to take a break from *dangles preposition heartlessly*, and I find I need some time to adjust. I've been student teaching at the local high school, which so far means taking over 2 classes, some grading, way too much getting up before 6, and a little wrestling with my sense of self. My brain is trying to reset to my former teacher identity and finding that it doesn't quite fit to reality, sometimes in very literal ways: in my morning commute my hands and feet keep trying to drive a manual transmission which I haven't had for years now. I have to consciously remember to just stay in Drive. I'm also teaching ESL 2 nights a week and doing this seminar-thing at the University a few times a month. The result is a much more demanding schedule than I've been accustomed to and I find that little by little I've actually had a bit more energy. Supply and demand, I guess. At first I mistook the energy for anxiety, but I'm consciously trying to differentiate between them. It's a strange task, I'm developing check lists to go through to see if I'm worrying or just tapping my foot for no reason. Of course the check list can remind me of things I could be worrying about so it's all a tight-rope walk, at best. Itchy tight-rope.

And now I will either a) go read some fanfic, or b) watch the end of Downton Abbey while crocheting a TARDIS blanket. :D

finishing up

I should be working right now but maybe writing here a bit will get my writing neural pathways warmed up. Maybe I'm just procrastinating. *shrugs*

Tomorrow is the due date for the last project in my last class in the Teaching Certification program. Tomorrow at midnight. \o/ I'm around halfway done right now, I just need that final push. Actually, I also need to hand in the documentation of all the observation hours I've done at the local school, and then I'll be officially signed up for Student Teaching next term. _o/ (partial yay!)

I'm writing on my beautiful brand new little laptop.\\o// My family got together and everyone chipped in for a holiday/ birthday gift (I'm a mac, laptops are expensive). My old one was being held together (with only partial success) by duct tape, it also ran an OS so old that it wasn't capable of opening 21st century pdfs. The new one is like a dream. :D

Fantastic gifts aside, I'm actually mostly looking forward to the holidays. It'll be the first time in 2 years that I spend it with the family (I'll miss my BFF though) and it'll be the first time ever we all spend it at our place with my niece and nephew. They're usually at their mom's for Christmas as she's the only actual Christian among us, but this year we've got them. Bwa-Ha-ha! My sister is planning a wonderfully mixed celebration (latkes, roast pork and tembleque). At the very least it will be delicious.

And now I'm hungry.

a library with a view

I'm sitting in a shiny new public library within frisbee-throwing distance of my old job/ school. I'm waiting for people from my class to discuss a group project. Through no fault of my own, I'm uncharacteristically early and trying not to be antsy/ maudlin about the old job. And... I just chatted with a former student from my first year teaching. If any class has reason to not remember me fondly, it's hers (I had no clue what I was doing) but she was sweet and happily told me about preparing for grad school in chemistry. *is proud*

The more I see of other schools, the more I realize how rare and wonderful that school was as a work environment. There was so much cooperation and a culture of development and improvement and caring. Right now I'm spending a lot of time doing observations at a high school with the traditional lone physics teacher. It's a very different vibe. I may end up doing my practice teaching there with him; it's the most convenient option but I have some reservations. I have to figure out whether it'll be a problem to work with someone with a very different teaching style, or whether I'm just worrying because he reminds me of the Horrible Teacher I worked with that one year. *shudder*

The librarian at the desk behind me has now told the same story 3 times (hopefully to different people) about being shushed by a patron. Perversely, I'm feeling the urge to shush her. :P

It's been so long since I actually sat down just to read fanfic (or anything else for fun) and I'm so tempted! Maybe I'll set up a rewards system for myself and read a little for every few pages of "Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards" I get through.

did i stutter?

Should be working on my homework but I can't because I'm too busy being quietly angry/ bemused. I emailed the prof yesterday with some questions about the homework (took me forever to work up the courage because I am silly). My first question was along the lines of "do you mean X, or Y, or something else entirely?" His answer? "Yes".

non-inertial reference frames

I am officially back in grad school. Again. I'm just taking the one class I have left in my program but I still feel all entitled to complain about homework and the cost of textbooks and when are they going to finish that construction on campus. I still have the pre-practicum and practicum to do. Not sure how that's going to work or how long it will take, but I am moving forward. Acceleration is a big deal.

My part-time job teaching ESL hasn't started up yet. Apparently the program is no longer being run by the same people and there's less funding. The problem is now the other teacher and I need to do all the administrative stuff (more work, less pay!); the good thing is we may be able to improve things. For example, we may figure out what payroll needs from us so we can get paid regularly (the school district still owes me a paycheck from May). Also, if I rewrite the fliers and ads for the program I can fix both the English and Spanish typos *is a geek*. But the real benefit is that now we're meeting up and working together on a syllabus and we stand a chance of doing a much better job. I guess that's acceleration again.

Change is scary. It's nice to be able to look a little into the future without wincing, but I have to get over my fear of positive expectations. The monsters in my closet are the rainbows and unicorns.

Swiftly tilting planet

Last weekend I called my dad to find out how much damage Miss Adler Hurricane Irene had done in his part of the world (thankfully, none). Looks like I'll be getting the same call in a few days.
In the meantime I may get the opportunity to learn what a sump pump is. The fact that the basement needs to be sump-pumped before the storm so much as drizzles, is a bit off-putting.
And now I'm sleepy.

just a look around

It's been forever it seems. So, state of the self partial role call:
  • Aunt. Right now that's one of my primary roles in life. I live with my (step) niece and nephew (50% of the time) who are both teenagers now. There are fewer bedtime stories but more chocolate milk and, I think, more laughter too (though they're embarrassed when I laugh too loudly in public). As a non-parent, I get very little of the door-slamming. And then there are my friends' babies (the boy, my nephew, gets jealous sometimes). Last week my friend's mother asked her how to say "Auntie" in English (from Persian) so she could call me Auntie while I held her grandson. I think my heart grew a size or two. I love my BFF's baby girl fiercely, and I miss her almost as much as I miss seeing her mom become a Mom. I am not a Mom, I'm an aunt.

  • Teacher. Today I taught my nephew a little about mathematical notation for series (of numbers). I've had a part-time job for the last year, teaching ESL to adults. It's a free program with free childcare a few nights a week at the local high school. I've been making it up as I go along (the internet is a beautiful thing) but I'm starting to get more organized for this round. I applied for a "real" job teaching science at a new charter school for kids who had dropped out, it would have been perfect for me in many ways but I haven't finished the courses for my License so I didn't get the job. It was the final push I needed to enroll in that blasted course, but the gods of bureaucracy are still fighting me on that. Not sure which way it'll go.

  • Neurochemical mess. I've spent the last 2 days in mild surprise that I've accomplished some stuff. Not surprisingly this time frame coincides with the first days I've been appropriately medicated in months. Have I mentioned that I hate the healthcare system?

  • Fangirl. Just saw the last few eps of Supernatural this week. Hadn't been able to since elanurel died. My sister watched with me. Have succeeded in indoctrinating nephew in the cult of Doctor Who. I lured him in with 11 and now that he's hooked we're working our way through 10. He clings to me when things get scary, it's adorable. Sherlock fandom is still where I'm hiding out. Am repeatedly enthralled with the concept of asexuality. Fiction (art?) has always been about finding resonance with someone else's work and following it 'til it's taught me something new; there's a lot of Sherlock stuff that makes me think what if? I've re-read a few of the AC Doyle books but got distracted by His Dark Materials; am now on book 3 ("borrowed" from niece when she wasn't around and am now embarrassed about asking permission, right now my knitting is serendipitously draped over the book).

  • Tomorrow I'm meeting up with 2 of my former roommates from college. That's probably what brought on the list-making. They're both kind, good people, but I still get the gut reaction to hide.