Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Japanese Shopping Service

My first order from was super exciting. Before I ordered, I wasn't even sure they would accept an American credit card. I could not believe all the titles that were available to me, all the crafting books with amazing photos. From craft swaps I know that very small packages can end up costing a lot to ship internationally, but for two books it was only $12.40. That was 5 months ago. I was ready to put in another order but NOTHING in my order could be shipped to me. I wanted a few DVDs that are only available used, and some cans of coffee. I thought about it for a couple of days. The base price for one of the DVDs was $5, and I have wanted it for a few years. I decided to use a shopping service. There are so many fees! The service fee is separate from the percentage fee and the order fee and the item fee, plus of course double shipping. As I looked at the breakdown I reminded myself that I was buying 4 things for $40 (before international shipping), so even though the fees looked ridiculous they were fine. Today they have sent me six emails. 
It feels like at this rate I should just go to Japan, but if I do that I will of course want to have the practice. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Adult Ballet

Ballet is magical, my childhood feelings mixed with awareness of ballet in art history and ballet development... It is just beautiful. The class I am taking is not in a dance studio. It is in a mixed use studio at the gym where I work. It's used for yoga and stretching but it is sort of transformed when we pull out the barres and our little scuffing sounds start. I think I have been to four classes and already I am doing it! My first two days were difficult to follow along like I only knew first position and I could not do the arm portion whatsoever because I had to focus on the steps. 

The instructors teach in socks which I think is very welcoming as a signal to new members to come as you are. Socks honestly are doing the job perfectly. Good amount of traction, good amount of slip. The other students have shoes though and they are dainty and lovely so of course I want some. Sometimes one person will be wearing !dancewear like leg warmers or a half shrug and it is just all delightful. 

Friday, March 4, 2016


There are some mealworms in the classroom. I am afraid of them. They live in a tiny plastic terrarium on top of four inches of woodchips and the bodies of their ancestors. Sometimes I drip water on them because I feel responsible for them but I don't know what they need. If they were anything besides insects I would take steps to tend them or free them. As it is, I don't want to for example feed them and have a huge population. Also there are cockroaches so I probably shouldn't add any food to the classroom. One more month, little guys. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Telling Time

All day my fifth graders ask me what time it is. Besides recess, music, library time and that sort of thing that the whole class does together, many of them leave for tutoring and counseling. I think they have already learned to tell time but asking me is easier than reading the analog clock. So, I made little worksheet slips to hand out when I get that question. Four of them fit on one page. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My First Road Rage

In Oakland you can't just pull into any gas station, unless you are comfortable tuning out the tragic life story of a passing panhandler. I pretend to, but later I will be thinking, "Did her daughter really get kicked out of the homeless shelter for turning 13? No, right? But did she?" That is why I always go to a particular gas station near my house that is panhandler free and just normal.

For the past few days it has had a long line, so I thought today would be a good day to go since I was getting home after commute hours. There was a line six cars into traffic. There were people filling gas cans on the ground. The price was $1.99, less than I have ever paid. I wasn't in a hurry but as I waited and waited, I felt sort of panicked because traffic is dangerous and I would never normally go into a traffic jam like that and then get out of my car. I needed gas very badly because this station has been busy for days.

 Actually pumping gas was fine, even though there was a lot on the ground. It only took $25 so I almost topped it off before I remembered the reason. But on my way out, someone in a big green truck started backing into the spot I was in, and someone had already pulled in behind me so I honked to let both know what was happening. The driver of the green truck signaled for me to go around so I put my signal on to show I understood, and then he kept reversing at me! I leaned on the horn, reversed, and drove away. I was already angry that I had to go to the gas station when I could see it would make me uncomfortable, and then that guy was too eager to line jump to even drive safely. I was furious.

 On my way home I asked myself rhetorically why anyone would do that and realized he might be very desperate, and I swung the car around and drove back to give him whatever was in my wallet, like, go to hell if you need money. (Those are not my real feelings, just the feelings I was having right then.) Anyway he was still there when I got back (see also: big truck) but after I parked and watched traffic for a second to make sure nothing weird was happening he started to pull out. I was still so mad that I walked out onto the meridian and waited for him. I said, really forcefully, "Excuse me sir, can I talk to you?" and he said, "No, I ain't got nothing." and left. So that was satisfying.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Why We Learn Spanish

I thought I would spend my substitute teaching year trying all different subjects and grades. However, when I was asked to stay at a school which needs someone until March, I accepted. The teachers I have met have a hard line against having their free time exploited, refusing to take on uncompensated or minimally compensated extra duties, and insisting on taking their duty free lunch breaks. I am new enough and inexperienced enough that I am spending hours every day trying to get myself up to speed.

I supervise the kids at most of their electives, but one is designated prep time for me. It is at the end of the day on Friday, so I don't need the time to photocopy things or review my lesson plan. However, because the other teachers consider prep sacrosanct, I was taking it anyway.

 Last week my charges terrorized each other during my prep period so I offered to supervise them this week. While I was there I looked around and realized how lucky I was to get to sit in on a Spanish lesson. Prior to yesterday, if someone asked me to teach Spanish at a 65% English Language Learner school I would cry. (Not that I would sign up for it, but sometimes the listing is wrong. I have been put into a PE class before.) But now I know the secret to teaching 32 children with probably 10 different levels of fluency and 10 reading levels is to have them make duolingo accounts and take assessments.

In addition to attending Spanish to help the students settle in, I prepped them right before class. I vaguely planned all day to discuss Why We Learn Spanish but I made it all the way to the portable before I actually did it. Getting them to make a circle on the playground is hard and some were running and playing instead of listening to their classmates, so I asked the boys for a ball to use as a talking tool. They came up with a full size football. I had my purse and binder under my arm- the ground was wet so I couldn't set anything down- so I needed it lobbed to me. The children had to retrieve it when it fell through my hands, but it attracted the attention of the wayward ones. We answered two questions, "Why do we learn Spanish?" and "Where do people speak Spanish?" And honestly it was so sweet.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Kurbitsing a Hemnes Bookcase

 Comparing NYE plans with a coworker, I explained that I would be building a bookcase. She encouraged me to go out, even though it is cold, expensive, and crowded. At this point in my life, my favorite part of New Year's is getting everything in order. As it turns out, I couldn't save the project for New Year's Eve. I was too excited about building the bookcase to sleep, so I got out of bed and took a stab at putting it together. This morning, I had to reconfigure it a little bit and I painted it and now I am delicately putting my favorite things in it and my not favorite things in piles upon piles of paperwork.

I love kurbits painting. I kept this pretty delicate and clean... it barely coordinates with the bolder version on my bed.  

Jonas really wanted me to get a white bookcase to use as a fresh base for painting. I appreciate the impulse- translucent layers on white look great. But, since white furniture isn't my thing I would have to cover it completely. This is a formerly white particle board chest that I painted with a faux wood grain. It was fun to do, and looks great, but doing the same for a full size piece of furniture is daunting.