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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer Job, 2nd edition, vol. VII (In Brief)

I realized it's been SEVERAL days since I updated last.

The kids have arrived. The classes have started. And with that, chaos has ensued.

Things I've done in the last few days:
Sent 681 students off to their courses three times Monday and three times Tuesday;
Safety checked six classes around campus
Led a class I did not plan for an instructor that was not here;
Sweat through two tshirts in the horrible humidity;
Sat in a hammock for three hours on my first night off;
Spent four hours on duty in the curriculum office, where I cleaned rooms, tore tape off signs, had a spontaneous dance party, and listened to Pandora;
Had three hours of professional development and then the afternoon off, wherein I ran to Walgreens, did my laundry, watched the Bachelorette, and took a nap.

Now, off to birthday do-over.

This time, I'm armed with proper hydration.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Job, 2nd edition, vol. VI (Mostly I'm Sweaty)

I don't even remember when I posted last. It feels like weeks...

OK, it was Thursday.

What's happened since then?

Friday, we had our final day of training and then the Staff Talent Show.

Now, last year, I couldn't decide what I wanted to do that would feel right. So I read my books post. The reception it got was so warm and generous, and when I told people I wanted to read something again this year, I got nothing but totally excited responses.

It's pretty amazing to be in a place where 100% of the people you talk to are curious and interested in what you write.

Not to mention who you are.

Anyway, I read this and got another amazing response.

The night was chockful of ridiculous talent.

I finally went out with the staff Friday night and stayed up super late, chatting and confessing as you can only do at camp, with some other staff members.

Yesterday, we had a short morning of prepping for the kids' arrival and then we traveled to the beach as a staff for the afternoon.

I haven't been to a beach in YEARS, and I even managed to avoid getting sunburned. Dipped my feet in the ocean, napped in the shade, and ended up singing in a large group until it was time to head back to campus. Went out to dinner with some of my colleagues, sat in a hammock with others until not too late.

It was a pretty lovely day.

The kids arrived this afternoon, and after stuffing envelopes for their registration, I stood in a lecture hall to help photograph them for their IDs.

It's amazing how even the cushiest jobs here start feeling laborious after 4 1/2 hours. My legs started cramping, I lost my words after saying the same thing to over 400 kids...

And then, my day ended with the absurd task of transferring a ROOM full of linen packets across campus to another room. We probably did ten runs of six wheelbarrows full.

And now my body hurts in a way it hasn't in a year.

And, honestly, I don't even really mind.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Job, 2nd edition, vol. V (27 and a Day)

It feels like years since I wrote last.

Yesterday was the curriculum training day for the other instructors, which meant my team and I spent the day:
Introducing ourselves with a song;
Leading panel discussions with returning faculty and new faculty about teaching strategies;
Running a sample lesson with our faculty advisees;
Distributing course materials and noting materials and classroom grievances;
Meeting with each of our individual advisees to talk about the first week.

It was a 12-hour day where I did not stop and began to notice late in the day that I wasn't feeling well. Had a sore throat and body aches.

Still, I was determined to enjoy my birthday, ran home to change and meet my friends who were going to come out with me, and started to feel like I was going to pass out. I couldn't figure out if it was because I needed food or water or rest or all three.

By the time we got to the bar, I wasn't sure how long I'd last, and I pounded three glasses of water and signed up to sing one song at karaoke, hoping for the best.

By 10:30, I was so queasy, I knew I wouldn't make it. One friend ran out to buy me granola bars. Everyone rallied around to see if I was OK, and by the time I figured I should just go home, a couple insisted on walking me there.

My birthday party continued without me, and apparently, was pretty amazing.

Back at the dorm, somehow, I got out of my clothes and ready for bed, but ended up puking twice that night.

My diagnosis: total dehydration. It had been an insane, hot, busy day. And I just didn't pay attention to how much water I was drinking.

Bad Annie.

I woke up today, exhausted but feeling generally OK. And had a very productive day.

In which I drank more than 4 bottles of water.

Considering I've already been to the nurse to deal with a huge welt given to me by some insect, I'm hoping this isn't the Summer of the Infirmary.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Job, 2nd edition, vol. IV (Work, Work, Work)

Currently, I am checking Facebook, setting up my new phone, and eating dinner.

That is just how life goes here.

This was the third and final day of curriculum orientation; all-staff orientation begins tomorrow morning.

This is my to-do list for the evening and next two days:
Plan Wednesday's meetings with my instructors;
Plan Wednesday's lesson for my instructors;
Finish Course Diagnostic forms (I only have four left);
Set-up my new phone;
Plan/write the Curriculum Office intro, for all-staff.

This last point I volunteered to do after we ran out of time in our staff training today because we were planning our weekly schedules of instructor observations and feedback sessions.

I'm sure this doesn't make any sense to any of you.

I'm still alive, just very busy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Job, 2nd edition, vol. III (It's Begun)

Time here is so weird.

I remember noting that last year too. The saying goes that a day here feels both like a minute and a week.

I slept about 9 hours last night, so felt much better-equipped to face the first day of curriculum training. And, now, I suddenly have 11 new friends.

How does it happen so fast here?

Oh, right.

Maybe because we spent 10 hours together today, working, chatting, answering questions, talking about teaching, and putting our heads together, seriously hitting the ground running.

I can't believe I just introduced myself to these people THIS MORNING.

It's amazing how a group can be brought together by having a passion for teaching in common.

After a dinner out, we all scurried back to our dorms because we have a ton of preliminary work to do.

But I took a break to write this post and assure you all that I'm not as cranky as I was yesterday.

Thank you for your concern. And I made it through day 1!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Job, 2nd edition, vol. II (Travel)

What a long, strange couple of days it's been.

And, can I just mention again, what a pain in the ass it is to travel alone with two gigantic bags full of 8 weeks of luggage?

I am running on about 5 hours of sleep after 7th Annual Birthday Extravaganza, which involved mind-blowing renditions of such varied classics as "Like a Prayer," "Love is a Battlefield," "That Don't Impress Me Much," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and "Always Be My Baby," among many, many others. It was a pretty epic night of karaoke, if I do say so myself.

I had much-needed and much-appreciated help, from S and her bf, with my bags to the train station this afternoon. Our strange cabdriver, whose name was Luckmann Lalanne (I shit you not) and who wore what looked like a three-piece suit, took a convoluted way to the station and dropped us off a block away.

The train to CT was PACKED. So much so that I struggled and whined to the other passengers to help me get my bag away and above the aisle and then plopped down in a four-seat area, only to be bombarded by three young people who pressed their knees against mine, sitting across from me.

Turns out they were on their way to a Phish concert. They even brought their own Miller Lites, which they drank indiscreetly. (Joy.)

So, instead of getting to nap, I overheard the drama about the two girls and their older, totally hot, male friend, who was married but still, apparently, ferociously made out with one of the girls one night. The two girls talked about him when he went to get more beer and when he came back, he asked, too-innocently, "What are you guys talking about?"


I got to campus in one piece and unpacked in no time, starving and sweaty and exhausted.

Met my neighbors in the dorms and reunited with a few peeps from last year. (This year, I'm living in much fancier digs and away from campus where the kiddoes will be.) Got some dinner. Did some work that I wasn't able to do this week. (I still have a BUNCH more to do...but, instead, I plan to go to sleep momentarily because training starts at 9 tomorrow.)

What have I gotten myself into again?

Pray for me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Job, 2nd edition, vol. I (the Night Before)

Here we go again!

I leave my house tomorrow for 7 1/2 weeks. First, to celebrate the 7th Annual Birthday Extravaganza and then off to Summer Job, 2nd edition.

I have two gigantic suitcases that I know will feel like the bane of my existence tomorrow afternoon. Maybe this time I'll ask for help BEFORE getting on the train, unlike last year, when I found myself struggling into a dining car and then had to turn around and NOBODY HELPED ME.

I'll try to sleep a lot tonight, wake up, finish packing, clean my room, and then I'm off.

I can't remember how apprehensive I felt last year, but I'm experiencing a slight sense of dread right now.

I recently read through my posts from last year and thought, GOD, I WAS EXHAUSTED! WHY AM I DOING THIS AGAIN?

The truth is, I still don't quite know what to expect because I'll have a different job than I did last year, and I'm just as nervous as I was last year about feeling old and disconnected...

Frankly, I think it will be hard to be away from my house and my routine for so long.

And, then, I'll come back to REALLY being unemployed.

So, in some ways, this is my last night of vacation.


Monday, June 14, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes (and Adults, Yelling at the Wii)

Spending large quantities of time with a 3 1/2 year old boy is pretty great. Especially when he says things like this:

"I look like Obama!," admiring himself in the mirror.

"I am a bad guy robot."

"You be a pirate. I'll be a bear."

"You be a pirate. I'll be a dragon."

"You be a giant alligator. I'll be a giant tiger."

"Stay calm!," with his hand up to stop me from asking him to identify so many colors.

"Naptime!," his answer to my question, "What day is it?"

"Cacamaya poopoo," his go-to bad word.

"10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20!," proudly counting by tens.

"What rhymes with...pumpkin?," stumping me, as we played with rhyming words.

Some other choice quotes from one evening of playing Wii, that will probably only be amusing to those of us who were there:

"Suck my ass-bite, sugar shots."

"I'm stuck on the very ceiling!"

"Where's my SUIT?! I just lick everybody."

"Who took off their condom on their joystick?"

(A long interchange around the ingestion of personalized M&Ms)
D: "I'm gonna eat me right now. That's the only time I can do it."
A: "No, just do yoga!"
H: "In your dreams!"
D: "I feel like I would faint cuz I'd be upside down."
A: "'I can't breathe!'"
D: "I'd pass out. I'd be so embarrassed!"

"I get horny from the spiky men. I mean, sweaty!"

"She's getting sweaty from the horny men!"

During a long weekend of partying every single day, it's these simple, sweet moments that shall always stay with me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Another Momentary Absence

I am heading cross-country first thing tomorrow to attend many important family events.

I imagine I will have a moment or two to log in and post, but I make no guarantees.

When I return, I will be home for exactly 48 hours before 7th Annual Birthday Extravaganza and the beginning of Summer Job, Redux.

Get excited.

Don't miss me too much.

And see you soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Overheard in the Classroom (or Kids These Days), vol. XIV, the Special Edition

I visited my kids today, for the last time this year, since I'm heading out of town Thursday and will be back for only 48 hours before I'm gone again for the summer. They still have more than two weeks of school left!

I can't even express how lovely it was to NOT teach them today. I got so many hugs and everyone was so happy to see me. It's amazing how unflinching their love is when I'm not their teacher.

And, of course, they cracked me the eff up.

"Can I have another copy of the assignment?"--one of the high schoolers, treating me as if I'd never left. I got asked by several others if they could leave to use the bathroom. Old habits die hard, I suppose.

"We're selling a happy ending."--another high schooler's answer for the commercial project they were working on. I don't think I was supposed to hear him, but I thought it was hilarious.

"You know black people can't afford jewelry, girl."--one of my favorites, asserting to me that the ethnicity of the demographic they'd be selling jewelry to for their commercial project would NATURALLY be white.

Me: Have you missed me?
Kid: No.
And I believed him.

"I'm gonna start reading the dictionary to improve my vocabulary."--one of the 8th graders, explaining his plans to become a better rapper and lyricist. I assured him he could read regular books too. Even books that he LIKED!

"We're gonna hook you up when we get famous."
"Hopefully, it'll happen faster than expected."--my two favorite 8th graders, making this future teacher proud.

"Subpoena! Subpenis!"--an 8th grader...being an 8th grader. He also spent the entire class doing humping motions.

I missed them so.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I am a Pop Culture Genius: vol. XIII, the Saturday Morning edition

Does anyone remember TNBC?

Every Saturday morning, NBC would run scintillating half-hour comedies geared towards young teens. Illustrious programs like Saved by the Bell, California Dreams, Hang Time, and City Guys.

It is because of these shows that Anthony Anderson (of Law & Order fame) and Jay Hernandez (of Crazy/Beautiful and Hostel fame), who have certainly established themselves as legitimate actors, will always be known to me as "those guys from Hang Time."

Also, Rufio's brother was on City Guys.

My lovely ex-roommate is sharing her Netflix account with me, and I have wasted most of the weekend rewatching The Hills Seasons 1 and 2 on Instant Watch.

Finally, today, I decided to move on to more quality programming and watched a couple episodes of Weeds because I have heard consistently great things about it.

I recognized an actress from this show in the second episode:

Michelle Krusiec played Sui, the Asian One, who, if I remember right, was a bit of a ditzy shopaholic.

On Weeds, she played the tennis pro who is sleeping with (the fantastic) Elizabeth Perkins's character's husband and sticks a racket up his butt during sex.

Moving up in the acting world, for sure.

P.S. I guarantee the One World theme song will now be stuck in your head.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fitting Rooms are My Ninth Circle of Hell

I've been shopping a lot lately. For those of you who know me, you understand that this is significant. I'm notoriously not the best shopper ever. Or the most eager.

But, I'm working in Connecticut again this summer and want to feel more like a lady than I did last year, during which I never seemed to have quite the right thing to wear on nights off. So I've spent a lot of time collecting summer dresses that will last through the physical demands this work will put me under, as well as keep me comfortable and cool.

I'm also planning a small birthday party mid-month and wanted something new and fun for that.

And last night, I stayed awake until 330 AM, worrying about what I could wear to the staff party at the end of the summer.

For somebody who not only already owns more dresses than I ever wear and who outright dislikes shopping on most days, I've probably tried on more than forty dresses in the last month. Nothing seems to be fitting me lately.

My goal today, as I reluctantly headed to Macy's in a last-ditch effort, was to find a comfortable pair of black flipflops (which have mysteriously been eluding me for weeks, until I resorted to a pair of Crocs--DO NOT JUDGE) and a suitable party dress that I could wear to both my birthday party and the staff party.

Now, I have chronicled my complicated relationship with clothes before. We have a checkered history together.

But I was bound and determined to leave with a dress that at least fit me right and wasn't ugly or over about $50.

I swept through the dress racks, taking every dress that didn't make my eyes fall out or make me gag between the sizes of 8 and 12.

My first round in the fitting room took me about half an hour, and I had to endure loud Chinese women through the entire ordeal. By the time I'd tried on over six dresses, I was sweating and feeling faint. And then, suddenly, my hip got a cramp.

Shopping is hard work.

But still no dress.

I wandered the floor again, limping with my sore hip, and prepared to fail.

I took a tour of the entire floor, and resorted to the Juniors' department, which, at almost 27 years old, is finally beginning to feel wrong. And also, what's with the odd numbers?

Another six dresses into the fitting room with me, and another loud conversation in a foreign language to overhear.

It's amazing how your standards shift when you're shopping for hours.

I was almost convinced I could pull off a black and white stretchy tube dress. It was $60 and seemed like the best option.

Until I tried on the last dress.

I looked at it and thought, "If this isn't it, I'm leaving, and I'll just wear a Tshirt and jeans to the parties."

It has a white bodice with thick straps, a large black belt, and a pleated royal blue skirt. And, while it's not PERFECT, I know it will make me feel pretty for two nights. And that's worth the $41 it cost, for sure.

Besides, I certainly wasn't leaving Macy's with just Crocs as evidence I'd survived.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tourist Tips for a Weekend in Chicago

1. If possible, stay in a hotel that is close to public transportation. This will make exploring this gorgeous, easily-accessible city even easier.
1a. Do not discount a hotel simply because it does not have a bar. Friendly staff, comfortable beds, free breakfast buffet, and a waffle maker nearly make up for this lack.
1b. In terms of riding the "L," REALLY stay clear of the doors. They can eat you.
1c. The gong sound you hear on the train is not some nearby church bell tolling the time. That lovely sound is the "L" indicating that the doors are about to eat you.

2. If you have a chance to see Sex and the City 2, don't.
2a. Even the two glasses of Prosecco you order at the fancy movie theatre will not make the movie any less offensive or depressingly unamusing.

3. If you notice a waitress sneaking around the alleyway after you’ve just ordered two beers at an outdoor bar, she may, in fact, be spontaneously quitting. Don’t worry though, another waitress is sure to be with you shortly.

4. Be warned: The crispy red snapper they serve at Sushi Samba Rio comes with a face.

5. Walking through Millennium Park and by the water is an ideal activity for any sunny day.
5a. Remember to wear sensible shoes.
5b. Don’t be afraid to ask other tourists to photograph you and your friends. But also, don’t wait around for twenty minutes, searching for the EXACT right person to take your picture. Any schmoe will do.

6. See a play at the Steppenwolf Theatre.

7. Sometimes, when you THINK the perfect snack would be either a Chicago-style hotdog or a slice of deep-dish pizza, the ACTUAL perfect snack is Chicago-mix popcorn from Garrett's: cheddar popcorn and caramel popcorn made separately and mixed into cheesy, sweet perfection.
7a. Eat in the park, if possible. While playing I Spy, if you can manage it.

8. The rooftop bar at The Wit Hotel is a scene. Enter at your own risk. However, drinks and snacks there are excellent.
8a. Avoid groups of sleazy, European men, unless they offer to share their champagne with you. In which case, have at it.

9. A late night supper at Park Grille is a superb way to end a really long, hot, eventful day. I recommend you order the crab cake and the house salad.

10. Sharing buffalo wings and a vegi deep-dish pizza is a good way to feel better about yourself after having a fat day while shopping. Especially if you’ve been looking for a birthday party dress and everything you tried on made you feel gross.

11. The Architectural Boat Tour is worth the price and will provide you with a deeper appreciation of the buildings that have surrounded you all weekend. And free cookies.

12. Be aware: The Sears Tower is now called the Willis Tower.
12a. Go to the Sky Deck. It’s super fun and educational.
12b. Standing 103 floors above Chicago actually makes you feel high. As in, not sober.

13. The walk to Tamarind on Wabash Avenue is sketchy. Take a cab.
13a. And keep the "L" tracks over you as a guide, otherwise you'll be confused as to how you ended up on this street instead of that one.

14. Take the bus to the Museum of Science and Industry. Not only will you be excited that you’re using public transportation so expertly but you will get a nice tour of the outskirts of the city.
14a. Here, you can enjoy such exciting exhibits as touring the U505 submarine, or seeing the development of a human fetus week by week, or attend a special lecture called “Poop Happens,” or watch as a 13-foot heart matches your very own pulse.
14b. Try not to go on a day the President is visiting or when it’s spontaneously pouring.
14c. And, by all means, check your departing flight status before you get back on the bus to return to the city. You can spend a whole day there, and it’s more fun than sitting in an airport for five hours.

15. Remember, the remedy for avoiding a nasty hangover often involves a long walk back to the hotel.
15a. Be sure to buy SmartWater and/or Vitamin Water on the way to stave off dehydration. Sometimes Pretzel M&Ms are appropriate as well.
15b. The mimosa bar and hangover helper (virtually nachos covered in eggs) at Sweetwater on Michigan Avenue also help.

Safe travels!

Don't Worry, I Didn't Die on the Plane from Chicago

I am just stalling until I figure out what I want to write about the trip.

Very briefly, it was awesome.

I only cried in public twice.

S and I took the best photobooth pictures and old-timey staged picture of us ever.

And we stood in a glass box 103 floors above the street.

We did lots of other things too but I haven't quite recovered yet, so stay tuned til I figure out the cleverest ways to tell you...