January 31, 2012

February Resolution

My resolution for the month of February is to write more often, even if there isn't a whole lot going on. Annual resolutions never seem to stick so I'm thinking that maybe if I take this one month at a time I'll have better luck... anyway:

I took the writing portion of my Praxis test this morning. For any teachers out there I'm sure you can agree that the whole test thing is stressful enough but add a couple little old ladies with metal detectors into the mix and it turns into Candid Camera. They are serious about cheaters at this testing center and make you empty your pockets, get photographed and even write out (DO NOT PRINT) the agreement form. The hand held metal detector was an added bonus and made me wonder what these nice ladies would do if I had a cell phone tucked into my brazier. Would they bounce me out? I think I could take them but the shorter one looked like a biter...

So one test down and three more to go. When I got back to the office I broke down and ordered a new Kindle cover (you may remember that I LOVE my Kindle and bought it after David talked about ereaders on his blog). I also ordered the trial version of the New Yorker (1 month free, $6.99/ month after that).

Yup, that's my day. Keep on keepin' on.

January 30, 2012

Dolce & Gabbana

Not much going on this week, and by "not much" I mean just the usual craziness of classes + a bunch of major teaching tests I need to take for my license + STRESSFUL WAITING on the NOLA thing and Teach for America. You know that feeling when there's so much going on that all you can do is stand perfectly still because you feel like if you move you'll trip and all those balls you have in the air will come crashing down? Well... That's been my week. My first test is tomorrow: Two hours of writing assessment and I have to drive to Springfield to take it. On a high note, I found a teal Dolce & Gabbana handbag at Salvation Army this afternoon which I am interpreting as a cosmic "adaboy". 

January 29, 2012

My First Advertisment

Not always in your best interest...
I started this site to keep friends and family updated, get ideas about vehicle dwelling, and to be a resource for those who might be considering the lifestyle. A few months after this blog was started I began getting offers from advertisers: let us post on your site and we will give you “X” number of dollars. Maybe if they had wanted to advertise camping gear or even kitchen appliances I would have been more willing to hear them out, but they wanted to post things like “Reduce your credit card debt by 70% with our ten step program!” or “make $10k a week from home!”

As far as I am concerned these are borderline scams preying on desperate people in a time of economic hardship. Many people come to this site because they are trying to just get by or because they have lost something and been forced to cut back. I think it would be a betrayal for me to post the kinds of ads that have been presented to me, so all you trollers out there; don’t email me unless you have a product that might actually be beneficial to someone.

I guess I’m explaining my views on ad space because I was recently contacted by a company that I do approve of and the Tuckerbag will be featuring its first advertisement. They are a free site and I’m not getting money from them because I was really impressed and think that you guys might get some use out of it. This is their background:

Icantpaymybill.com was founded as a resource for consumers who may are unable to make bill payments on time. We realized that many companies have debt payment procedures in place that are never fully explained on corporate websites or in official literature, and we believe it is important for individuals in debt to understand that they do have options. We contact every institution that we profile to ask them how they work with their customers who are behind on payments. We also aim to provide an open forum for people who have fallen into debt. Our readers can discuss what real-life bill management strategies worked for them, and what didn’t. Even with sound planning, sometimes debt happens. Icantpaymybill.com can help.

So it’s a cool site to check out if you’re having trouble with student loans, electric bills, auto loans or whatever. They kind of break down your options by company so debt isn’t quite so overwhelming. 

Readers: Feedback is welcome. 
Advertisers: don't take this as an open invitation

January 26, 2012

New Orleans Trip Part II

8 beds per room
Hey ladies and gents! So sorry it's taken me this long to give you guys the full New Orleans scoop, but here it is!

When last we spoke I had recently woken up in New Orleans after my first plane trip and the shock of 70 degree weather in January that only a northerner can appreciate. The plan for my day (Friday) was to lounge around reading trashy romance novels and my only physical exertion would be removing the umbrella from my cocktail. Unfortunately (or not) that was not really how the day went.

I got the top bunk
First of all, I stayed at the Marquett House, an unassuming little hostile in the garden district that boasted both a pool and internet access. I'm not sure why I believed that but for $16 a night I was willing to take the risk. Within a few minutes of waking up I decided that they either hid the pool or it was reserved for private room guests. As for internet access I was told to try Igor's bar/laundromat down the street. I of course got my stuff together and went to see what kind of bar was open at 9am on Friday morning. Turns out they all are and I sat next to a jogger who stopped in for a shot of whiskey before her last mile. Dominic the bartender made a nice cup of coffee (with Kaluha) but they didn't have internet access, so off I went.

How do you know when you're an internet addict? Is it after the first mile? The second? I walked all the way down St. Charles from Igor's to Tulane University before admitting that these were extreme lengths even for me. The walk was beautiful through all the old houses with their perfect southern front porches. Everything smelled like flowers and when a man passed on the side walk he would say "good morning mam" and stand aside like I needed the whole three feet of asphalt to comfortably pass him. By the time I got to Loyola University (right next to Tulane) I was getting tired and my feet were hurting so I went into one of their buildings. Turns out it was the music wing and I sat in the hallway listening to students practicing violin and cello. Aster a while I ventured back out and found that I was right across from Audubon Park, a really beautiful place that was a highlight of the trip.

Instead of walking back to the hostel, I payed $3 for the full day trolley pass and rode it all the way into the french quarter and back. Turns out there was a Burger King about 50 feet from Igor's that had internet access so I through that blog post up and headed aback to the hostel with a bottle of wine for some much needed rest and recuperation.
Woldenberg Riverfront Park

My interview was going to be at Lafayette Academy about five miles from the hostel so I got up around 5am, caught the trolley to the end of the line (which was closer than expected due to maintenance work), and walked the rest of the way. One interview is very much like another but this was a full day long with 100 other candidates, so I was pretty exhausted by 4pm. Because my plane was leaving at 6am I decided it would be a waste of money to stay at the hostel on Saturday night. Instead I meandered around the city, riding the trolley's around the river front and Canal Street, watched the ferry, got some coffee and pastry at La Madeleine's french cafe. Eventually I called a cab and went grudgingly to the airport. I was tired by the time I made my way home but by Sunday night I had been awake for almost 42 hours and I slept happily in my little car despite the 10 degree temps.

January 20, 2012

In New Orleans!

As most of you know, I have an interview in New Orleans this Saturday which meant that I had to get on a plane for the first time… Well that was yesterday and this is how it went:

I spent Tuesday night going over all my last minute stuff like laundry, packing and my schedule for the interview. At about 11pm I drove to a Wal-mart up the street from California Clare and got a few hours of shut eye, but by 4am I was awake and in search of coffee. At 5am I let myself into Clare’s, she and Juan woke up about twenty minutes later, and we all piled into the car in sub zero temperatures. The combined facts that it was at most 4 degrees and that it was 5:30am shows you just how awesome these two really are to drive me to the Worcester Train station.

So I caught the 6:30am to South Station in Boston and was there within an hour and a half. Found the Silver Line bus shuttle to Logan after some searching and was at airport security by 8:30am, well ahead of schedule. I’m not sure what to make of airport security. Everyone had to take off their shoes, even the little old lady in from of me, we had to take all sorts of things out of our bags to be scanned separately, like laptops, electronics, toiletries, and jewelry. I was there early so it was a quick process and I was off to find my gate. We boarded at 10:30am and I like to think that I at least looked like I knew what I was doing. Would you believe that my first time on a plane and I got all three seats to myself? Talk about luck, and then came lift off… I’ve decided that this is not my favorite part of flying but the view of those clouds as the plane gets higher was something else. After my morning I was asleep within the first twenty minutes and woke up to the announcement that we would be landing in Charlotte.

From Charlotte to New Orleans I was sandwiched in between an older woman doing Saduku and a businessman. I slept off and on but kept walking up as my head tipped forward, which must have been amusing for my two neighbors. The crowd was definitely different from the one out of Boston. One guy had bought an extra seat for his Bow Fiddle, a women had a violin, people were pretty friendly and talkative.

Touchdown in New Orleans at 4:30pm eastern time (the switch is going to throw me off) and I made my way to the airport shuttle. The driver was a gentleman of about 70 who kept calling me baby. My hostel is in the garden district and he was heading to the French Quarter, so he suggested I catch the next one. I told him that a tour of the city would be fine and he took that much too literally. We drove around letting everyone else off first (at their very swanky downtown hotels) and then he called dispatch to tell them he had hit some traffic and would be a bit longer. He gave me a personal tour of the French Quarter and the garden District pointing out all the cool landmarks, then he gave me a tour of the neighborhood he grew up in, which happens to be the same neighborhood that my hostel is in. Before I got off the bus I had to promise him that I would stick to main roads and not wander around at night. I am apparently staying right on the boarder between the good and bad parts of town.  You might say that I am the railroad track.

So that was my day. I read a lot (the Kindle came in handy) and went to bed early. Today I am doing nothing but reading trashy novels and drinking fruity beverages and tomorrow is my interview. I’m exhausted.

January 18, 2012


It's pretty rare that I voice political opinions on this site, but you may have noticed that The Tuckerbag went black today in protest of the internet censorship bills before congress. This is a very important issue that I think everyone needs to be informed about. Click here to get some info and click here to sign the petition.

This all about being an informed citizen in the information age so do some research, decide if this is what you want, then tell congress.

January 16, 2012

Sleeping at 6°

The average winter temperature in western Massachusetts is between ten degrees and thirty degrees. New England is cold; no surprises there, right? When I began this vehicle dwelling adventure I knew that eventually it would get cold enough that I would need to figure out how to exist in my car during the chilly months. This is so far the coldest it has been around here, cold enough to prompt a frantic early morning telephone call from my mother (when I didn’t answer she got online and started researching how many homeless people freeze to death each year).

When I woke up this morning, all snug in my bed, I poked my head out from under the covers… an immediately retreated back to the warmth like a turtle escaping danger. It was freezing! My thermometer read 6 degrees, about 18 degrees lower then it’s ever gotten, so I un-suctioned it from the window and brought it under the covers with me. I knew that I was going to be getting calls about the temperature today and I wanted to be able to assure people that I was fine. So what was the temperature under the covers? A balmy 65 degrees: perfect sleeping weather.

For those of you who go south for the winter: right on. For those of you who can’t go south, here are three things that make my home bearable on those chilly nights:
  1. Divide the car in half with curtains. The smaller the space the less it takes to heat and my body temp normally keeps the place pretty comfortable.
  2. Stock up on blankets. Sleeping bags are great if you have them, but I’ve found that a comforter and a few wool blankets do wonders.
  3. Cover your windows with some sort of insulating fabric. It gives you privacy and keeps you toasty.
Now to put things into perspective. In The Zincali: An account of the Gypsies of Spain the author discusses the Zingani, or Russian Gypsies, and their ability to resist extreme cold.
“…the vast majority… traverse the country in bands… Their power of resisting cold is truly wonderful, as it is not uncommon to find them encamped in the midst of the snow, in slight canvas tents, when the temperature is twenty-five or thirty degrees below the freezing-point.” (Borrow p 143)
Every year people climb Everest (voluntarily) and frequently deal with temps of -25, and that’s with no wind chill. Cold happens, and whether you are somehow resistant, like the gypsies, or very well prepared, like Sir Edmond Hillary, I hope you’re all staying warm this winter.

January 14, 2012

My 27th Year

First up, I turned 28 years old yesterday. I know it’s not old, but every birthday I look back on the year before and wonder if I made use of that time. Did I waste it? My 24th birthday was spent in the middle of my living room floor with a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey. After that I really tried to make sure I was taking advantage of the time I had, so here’s a recap of my 27th year (which conveniently runs January to January).

  • This time last year I was starting my second semester of college having decided to return to school after a seven year break.
  • I spent the whole year on dean’s list
  • I took 21 credits a semester to graduate in two years
  • I lived in my car for all but the first two months and have managed to make that work
  • I got an invitation to interview for a teaching position in New Orleans which I will leave for on Thursday
  • I met some great Rubber Tramps and vehicle Dwellers
  • I learned conversational Spanish
  • I took myself to the movies at least every other week for almost the whole year.
  • I got a Kindle and have been reading many more books (I’m reading Tale of Two Cities right now)
  • The day before my birthday I got invited to interview with Teach For America, so I have a backup if teachNOLA goes south.

So I count my 27th year as a success and something worth celebrating. In my 28th year I will graduate, move to a new state (one way or another), get a job in my field, and have a few more adventures.

Speaking of adventures, we are coming dangerously close to go time for this New Orleans thing. I fly down on Thursday (first time on a plane), Interview on Saturday, fly back Sunday, my first day of classes is Monday, Monday night I interview with Teach for America, and then I will collapse in a heap in the middle of the campus common... Through all of this I will be running on lots of coffee and very little sleep. As an added stress, I volunteer with UNICEF and we're gearing up for World Water Week. Here's a little something about the Tap Project:
The UNICEF Tap Project calls on restaurants, dining patrons, students, volunteers, corporations, communities, celebrities and government supporters to help provide clean, safe water to children in need around the world! During World Water Month, March 2012, restaurants across the United States will encourage patrons to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free. In tandem, UNICEF Tap Project volunteers will support their efforts by conducting local fundraising events and activities.All funds raised support UNICEF’s efforts to bring clean and accessible water to millions of children around the world. With just $1, UNICEF can provide one child access to safe, clean water for 40 days.
It's a great project and easy for businesses so I'm going to be writing lots of letters and dropping in on managers for the next month trying to get them geared up for March. If you're at all interested in recruiting a restaurant click here for more info. 

There will be lots of pictures from New Orleans, everyone cross your fingers that I don't get lost in the airport...