September 29, 2012

Where Did September Go?

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."  
"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" 
 -Lewis Carrol

September is pretty much over now and, looking back on the past month, I have no idea what I did with it. Since being promoted to Lead Pre-K Teacher I've been running (like the Red Queen) as fast as I can and still always seem to be a step behind. I think this is why the lessons I got as an elementary school student were so dull. Once the teacher had a year of lesson plans done they just kept recycling them, that way they could have a breather once in a while. If teachers are expected to stay current on techniques and information they should have smaller classes and more administrative support, otherwise they have the options of either being stressed and current or relaxed and ineffective. Lucky for me I got my second raise in a month. I asked for $11 (up from $10) when I took over the classroom and yesterday they gave me $12, just because they like me. That makes me feel a little better about spending so much of my weekend planning my school week.

In other news I have contacted the state about my former landlord, who is now completely ignoring my calls and owes me $480. We'll see where that goes, but bureaucracies are not known for their efficiency.

I'm still getting lots of use from my Kindle Fire, watching too many movies. I read The Hunger Games, which was surprisingly good. I normally don't trust the public's taste in books, but there's always an exception. I also read Wool, by Hugh Howey, which was very well done and I'm going to *gasp!* buy the full collection.

So that's life folks. Still searching for a throttle body, still with the folks, still taking the bus to work. I need to get transportation/housing squared away and I can feel winter creeping closer which, eventually, will force my hand.

Calamity Song by The Decemberists on Grooveshark

September 23, 2012

Memories & Keepsakes

 “At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.”
- Toni Morrison

A very young (and toothy) me
This week (the whole month really) has flown by. Most of my time has been spent writing lesson plans and trying to keep my temper when nine little kids are flying off the handle. It's been fun, but really time consuming.

I got my Kindle Fire, which is well worth the $199 if you're looking for an e-reader that acts more like a mini laptop then a book. I love the thing and have been plowing through The Hunger Games (I held back jumping on the HG bandwagon until the wagon until everyone else got off. Now there's more room). The other great thing is that I can watch movies on it and, on those nights when the folks are hell bent on a PBS rerun, I can escape to something more stimulating.

The cellar halfway through cleaning
So much dust!
Today I took a break from my Kindle to clean out the cellar, which has been an ongoing battle for about as long as the house has been standing. Today I moved two six foot stacks of Rubbermaid containers only to find that they are almost all marked "memories". In opening them up I was amazed to find not just photographs but random snippets of the past like my old Girl Scout uniform and hand-prints from the first ten years of my life. Toys, report cards, art projects, ski passes; they were all neatly boxed up. While I appreciate the idea of priceless memories, it terrifies me that we've managed to hold onto years worth of stuff which, thanks to the passage of time, is now more difficult to part with. Most of it would be in the burn bin right now, but I think this needs to be a gradual process of taking things out, reminiscing, and then moving on.

September 16, 2012

A Day Out Yachting

“I can't control the wind but I can adjust the sail.”
- Ricky Skaggs

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but my mother had an aneurism in 2008 while driving to the post office and she managed to dent the old noggin pretty nicely. Thanks to some pretty severe brain damage she is a loopier and slightly  slower version of the mother I grew up with (think MOM 2.0 with the screen that freezes sometimes and that annoying hourglass that keeps popping up). With some local support from groups that deal with brain damage she's been taking classes and kept pretty entertained the past few years and today, for the first time, I got to participate in one of the weekend events. Sort of...

Mum and I were suppose to go to a regatta at the Yacht Club today (and only at a yacht club would they call a simple race a "regatta"). All the participating boats had to have at least one brain damaged person on board in order to be eligible to race, so we showed up at 9:30am to sign in for our per-designated boat: The Briggs. Well, they put out donuts and coffee, so 10:00am came and went quickly (if hectically). They started a slide show which I swear played Enya's Sail Away on a loop and we munched our breakfast. The place was crowded and by 10:30am they were starting to call names to board. We waited as they called every boat, except the Briggs which seemed to be running late. By 11:15am (the race started at 11am) Mum and I were both getting giddy, Enya was playing for at least the seventeenth time, and we couldn't stop laughing. One man kept shouting randomly and another decided that Enya was the perfect music to showcase his awesome robot dance moves. They took away the donuts and replaced it with dip and a bowl of bananas, but no chips, which told us this must be a conspiracy, and the coffee ran out. By 11:30 all the tables had a place on the boats except for ours and there was no sign of the Briggs showing up.

Mum was upset, which she vocalized in a string of words which better suited less economically privileged seafarers. With a great harrumph we exited the Yacht Club. They were obviously, as my mother put it, a Mickey Mouse operation who loured brain damaged people in with promises of a fictitious boat ride only to mock them by playing "Sail Away" on a loop and feed them sub-par refreshments.

It wasn't all bad really, I got a kick out of it, but mum is still brooding.

In other news I bought the new Kindle Fire HD today! You might remember how much I LOVE my Kindle keyboard, but it's time to trade up and I'm giving my old one to mum so she doesn't need a ride to the library for a new book. It arrives in two days so I'll let you know what I think.

Sail Away by Enya on Grooveshark

September 13, 2012

Resort Day Care?

“It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, 

far more than our abilities.”
-J.K. Rowling

I was offered a position at a ski resort in Vermont working with at a daycare with both the children of guests and employees. Here I go with my pros and cons list:

  • When I'm not playing in the classroom I get to teach two and three year olds to ski! (about three times a day)
  • I could live in Vermont, which I really enjoy
  • I get a seasons ski pass to the mountain
  • I get points I can use towards golfing lessons, a gym membership or other resort amenities (the whole points system is a little strange, but I'm sure it's cool)
  • No lesson plans, just day care so less work
  • Less money, $9.80/hr when I'm making $11/hr now and can probably finagle $12
  • There is employee housing available for about $500, but I would be sharing a room with two other people and a house with about fifteen. 
  •  If I can't live really close to the mountain I'll need transportation of some kind which mean the car will have to be fixed anyhow.
  • Day care doesn't really give me the same hands on teaching experience that my current job does.
Me at ski school many many years ago. (3rd in from the left at the top with the pom pom and my sister is in front of me)
Maybe it comes down to the devil you know vs. the devil you don't. There's a gamble involved here. If I stay where I am I'll work my butt off and need to get the car fixed OR get an apartment close to work (which can be super expensive). If I leave I'll make less money so I'll walk away with less money saved and I might be walking into a position more suited to a teenager fresh out of baby sitting. Whichever I choose I plan to take off come May for the greener pastures of good seasonal work.

So peanut gallery, you haven't steered me wrong yet. What do you think? Stay put and save for the winter or take a leap and spend the season skiing in Vermont. I have to let them know by Friday so...

September 8, 2012

Pre-K Promotion

Just when I thought I was on track (maybe not a clear track, but still...) the deck gets reshuffled. I began my current job as a preschool teacher in July. Eight two year olds led by myself and a co-teacher. I wrote lesson plans, got to know the parents, got into a groove with the co-teacher, and pretty much had it figured out. Then the pre-K teacher gave his notice and within sixteen hours I became the new pre-K teacher.

Yup, I got promoted (if you want to call it that) to my own classroom with older kids (3-5 years old) and now have to relearn my whole job. I need to read up on the age group (because I've never worked with kids this age), write a new lesson plan (school starts on Monday), and get to know the kids (who are slightly confused with the changes). It's a challenge, but the freedom is good and I like the older kids. I just wish it came with more than a $1 raise.

In other news I'm still battling that landlord from last month. Quick recap: I rented a weekly paid room in what is basicly a boarding house, but after three days found that my roommates were having curb side narcotic drop offs (like pizza!). I moved out and have been trying to get my money back for the last two weeks. I call the guy every day and on 8/28 he texted me back saying "My apologies for not getting back to you. I'm traveling and will be back in town this weekend. I will call you and we will get together and settle up." Well, the weekend came and went with no phone call and I started my daily calls back up on Monday. Finally last night I called him from the bus stop and said, basically, that it had been two weeks and if I didn't hear from him by Monday I would explore other options. Low and behold, he texted back (this guy REALLY doesn't want to talk with me) claiming he texted me last Sunday asking for my address and the name of the roommate that was having drugs delivered. I never got a text, but that's beside the point, and I told him this morning that I was not going to name names. They were nice guys, just involved in stuff that, as a teacher, I can't get mixed up in. I haven't heard back but I've given him a deadline and if he doesn't stick to it I'm going to get vindictive (legally, of course).

Alright, enough chatter. I'm heading back to finish next week's lesson plan.

September 1, 2012

RVs & Text Books

“You are never too old to set another goal 

or to dream a new dream.”
- C.S. Lewis

It's Saturday evening, the first of a three day Labor Day weekend. I feel like I've been very productive today, applying to a few environmental education jobs as well as the United Nations and Peace Corp (just because, I guess). I also spent some quality time looking for cheap motor homes on Craig's List and Camping World, which is always fun.

One of the great things about living in my car was that if I wanted to leave an area I could just go. I didn't have a car payment so if I was out of work for a while I always had place to sleep and I knew no one was going to tow me away (at least not for lack of money). Now that I'm looking at RVs I'm realizing that it will force me into gainful employment for at least the next few years, which I'm not a huge fan of. Some of the coolest jobs I've had paid the least and I really don't want to be forced into a well paying office job.

Speaking of well paying jobs, I made $64 dollars today! When I worked at the University of Massachusetts I was charged with sorting the mail and distributing it to faculty and staff. It's pretty common for textbook publishers to send a copy of new textbooks to professors and graduate students, just to see if they want to use the book in their class (ie: make their students each buy the newest edition). I guess the publishers didn't update their mailing lists that often because we would get books for faculty that didn't work at the University anymore. Some of those books I put out for free, but I ended up saving a bunch of them to read later. This summer has been nuts and I didn't get around to looking at most of them so I posted seven on Amazon and voila! $480 in the last 1 1/2 weeks. Not bad at all.