Monday, September 18, 2006

To

please visit Öğretmen.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

And it comes to an end....

Student reflections...

My favorite parts of science class this year was the experiments we did. Usually in science we just read from the textbook. In this science class we're hands on.

Things that Ms. Frizzle did to help me were explaining the things I didn't get. When I needed something she got it. Gave me words to use.

I wish Ms. Frizzle had a class of chemistry like when you mixe liquids and smoke comes out. I wish she also had things to dissect.

The kids overwhelmingly want to do chemistry and dissections.

I wished Ms. Frizzle had not given me alot of lab reports this whole year because that is so much thinking for the entire year.

Things that Ms. Frizzle did to help me were that if I didn't understand something, she would break it down step by step. She explains the concepts thoroughly for me to understand.

Things that Ms. Frizzle did to help me were waiting for me to finish my experiment even after the deadline. Or not complaining so much about a simple little things like other teachers do, she just takes it calmly not violently.

I wish Ms. Frizzle had given my mother study sheets earlier in the year because my grade could have started going up.

Things that Ms. Frizzle did to help me were... you picked on me. I didn't think it was bad. I was glad that you did that because other teachers don't pick on me just to pick on me. It's mostly to help, and I kind of liked it.
(Ed. note: she means picking her to answer questions) I am reallly going to miss you. You really were the only teacher who I feel who really cared. Thank you! Wow. I would not have guessed. Do you ever really know what's going on in their heads?

Things Ms. Frizzle did to help me was get mad at me. And always say that I had to meet her halfway. This from a bright but very, very troubled girl who never met me even one tenth of the way. I just kept hitting her with the same message. Maybe one day she'll be able to not just hear it, but act on it.

Things Ms. Frizzle did to help me were when she graded my work, she was really specific on what I had to do; and it helped me realize what I was doing wrong, so I won't make the mistake again.

I wish Ms. Frizzle had things to digest. It would be kind of fun opening frogs and stuff.

I wish Ms. Frizzle had an air conditioner. Every day coming into a hot room then having to think with hot air. It really doesn't work for me.
Doesn't work for me either, honey, but it's not up to me.

And the honesty awards go to...

My favorite part of science class was all the times wen peoples phones got taken away because it was funny.

My favorite part of science class this year was nothing because we only did work work work we did not relax a little.

And that, folks, is really the end. Ms. Frizzle is dead, or maybe, like Walt Disney, just cryogenically frozen in hopes of future revival. But there's still a lot of good stuff to read out there... my friends post-hip chick, Mildly Melancholy, se hace camino al andar, and many others... check the blogroll. And here's something new that I strongly suggest you check out.

Thanks - it's been a good three years!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I should be in bed, but

it's the end of a long day, and I need a few minutes to just sit on my bed and wind down. So I may as well write something. I'm still sick. But the fever is under control and the body aches are (mostly) gone and I know what it is and have Cipro to treat it, and so I was back at work today. I'm not sure if it was disorientation from having been in so much pain for four days and then re-entering the real world, or whether the fever killed off a few brain cells, or whether it was all the medication I've taken this week, but I definitely was spacey in school today, enough so that several people commented on it. Normally, the words that come out of my mouth line up pretty nicely with what I want to say, but today my words were trying to keep up with thoughts that kept jumping around.... it was kind of amusing, and harmless, and the kids didn't notice anything, so....

I have another prescription for more Cipro to take with me to India, so the worst that happens with the typhoid situation is that I get it, take the Cipro, and get better. I will not die in India. That's a relief.

I sign my lease tomorrow. I would be more excited about this if it weren't going to be such a huge strain on my budget. When I tell people the rent and the neighborhood, they point out that it's actually a good rent for a 1 bedroom in Inwood, which it probably is. But it's a huge increase for me, and the broker's fee is what really hurts. There's not a lot I can do, and at least I love the apartment. So much the worse to be broke and moving into a place you're not that wild about!

And I can pick up my work visa tomorrow. I probably won't make it to the Consulate, which is in a completely different part of town from the new apartment, but knowing that it's available to pick up is such a relief.

Field Day was cancelled due to the likelihood of rain. It didn't rain, but I didn't hear any complaints. Our awards ceremony was pulled together through herculaean efforts, given that no one did anything about it on Monday and essentially all the color printers at school were broken, but we did it. Of course, even though we'd reserved the auditorium, a teacher from the elementary school was using it and would not be budged, so we ended up having it in a gym space, with the kids sitting on the floor. It was kind of anti-climactic.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


1. I'm sick as a dog. It was over 90 degrees in our classrooms on Friday, so hot that no one believed me when I told them I thought I had a fever. Then I went home, lay down, took my temperature: 102.5. I've had to run around all weekend looking for an apartment. I missed the 8th grade graduation because the trains were all messed up and I was late to my first apartment visit earlier that morning and then was too far away to make it back to the ceremony.

2. Anyway, I think I've found a place: it's too expensive, but it's huge, beautiful, in a pre-war building in Inwood, and, most importantly, they liked my credit and let me leave a deposit to hold the place until I can fax them a hundred more financial documents. The whole process makes me so angry. Why do you need my last three paystubs, my last bank statement, my tax returns, my social security card, my last six rent receipts... I pay my bills! That's what the credit check proved! They are charging a high fee for a "broker" who, as far as I can tell, doesn't exist and has done nothing to rent the apartment (although I have her business card and have to make out a money order to her. The previous tenant posted the ad and showed me the place. He's as pissed as I am. But enough rage, the point is, it's a gorgeous apartment in a pretty and safe neighborhood.

3. My health plan won't cover my typhoid vaccine for India. Luckily, they will cover the malaria vaccine. I'm irritated that I have to pay $75 out of pocket for something that will protect my health while travelling, but that's not the main issue. We have to fill "maintenance" prescriptions through a mail-order service. I didn't think a typhoid vaccine was a maintenance medication, so I took it to my normal pharmacy, way back in May when I got the prescription. Two days later, they told me they couldn't fill it, so I mailed it in. I got two automated messages on my voicemail telling me the mail order pharmacy had received and filled my prescription. But nothing arrived in the mail. I started to get a little anxious, because I have to start taking this at least two weeks before I go (I'm leaving July 5th - we're now well past the two week mark). So, I called customer service to ask about the missing prescription. They told me they would re-order it and mail it overnight mail, but I'd have to pay the co-pay again. Okay. Two days later, guess what arrives? A letter informing me that they couldn't fill it, and my original prescription. Upshot? I can't get the medication until Monday, and as a result, I will be at risk of getting typhoid for the first few days I'm in India. What I fail to understand is why they didn't tell me on the phone - or earlier - that they couldn't fill the prescription. I could have gone to my doctor for another, taken it to a local pharmacy, and filled it myself a week ago!

4. Earlier this week, my exchange partner emailed me, saying I needed to fax her my transcripts immediately, along with copies of my diplomas. I faxed the transcripts the next day but.... I have this weird situation with my master's degree diploma, which you can only understand if you work in NYC. Basically, I got my masters during a two year period when Teachers College, TFA, and the DOE teamed up to pay for teachers to get masters degree in exchange for a longer commitment to teaching in NYC schools. It was a sweet deal; I didn't have to pay very much for my degree. I did my part, and Columbia did theirs, but of course, when it came time to pay the bills, the DOE never came through. So, when I graduated, I couldn't get my diploma. The school acknowledges that I graduated when asked, but no diploma. I went back and stood in line at the registrar's office three or four times in the year and a half after I finished my degree, but each time, the story was the same. The agreement was between TC, TFA, and the DOE, so I couldn't really apply pressure on the DOE directly, as it wasn't an agreement they entered into with me personally. Finally, I gave up, figuring I had the degree, TC would back me up on that, did I really need the piece of paper? Hmmm. Now I do. I'm hoping that when I stop by TC on Monday afternoon, the problem will have resolved itself and they'll be able to give me a diploma. But I have to admit, I'm not confident of this.

5. Monday is our awards ceremony and Tuesday is Field Day, both of which I am really, really involved with planning, only I've been too busy and too sick and waiting on information from other people, and now... I don't know how they're going to happen.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Loose Ends

There are a lot of ends in my life right now, and nearly all of them are loose.


This is the first day in - I literally don't know how long - that I have been home before six on a weekday. Dinner has transformed from a meal often cooked at home to the question, Do I eat out the expensive way or the cheap way? And so, despite the 90 degree, you-can-nearly-swim-it's-so-humid weather, I think I'm going to make homemade pizza tonight. With bell peppers and fontina cheese. Ahhhhh.

I believe that the mind needs space and time to wander, for one's sanity. Time to notice and take in and wonder, time to think morbid thoughts and silly thoughts and worry a little, time to hear the way words sound together and take in the smells and sounds of the street, time to remember and to anticipate. Without that, my mind, at least, becomes forgetful, errands and appointments and commitments overlooked, papers misplaced, phone calls unreturned. And I stay up late because when I do not give it time to wander, my mind seizes that time at the end of long days.

One of the things keeping me up nights has been worry about my work visa. I am allergic to paperwork and bureaucracy. When I have important papers to fill out, everything feels ominous; I am sure that long lines and mean-spirited, beleaguered clerks await me, that I'm missing a crucial piece of information or misread a line of instructions, that I will be rejected for an incorrect digit. In this case, I was certain that my visa would take weeks, that they'd need my passport at the same time that I'd need it in order to go to India, that I'd have to rush around, beg, plead, bribe, that I might be allowed into Turkey but only after promising my first-born. Today, I finally gathered all the necessary information, passport-sized photos, copies of documents, and fees, and rushed downtown to the Turkish Center at the UN Plaza, bracing myself for bad news. The consulate was empty, and air-conditioned, the first two reasons to fall in love with Turkey. The woman found my name on a Fulbright list, took my papers, and twenty minutes later slid my receipt under the glass: Your visa will be ready on June 28th, bring this with you to pick it up. And that was all there was to it! As I waited for my visa, I looked around at all the words that I know how to pronounce but don't understand - which is progress - spotting familiar suffixes and guessing at the meanings. I intended to say Teşekkurler instead of thank you, but shyness (and sheer relief) overcame me at the crucial moment...

So, walking home on the East River promenade, my mind finally had a chance to wander. The city is smelly and hot, oppressively humid, but it's New York, and I wouldn't have it any other way: the industrial waterfront, the diesel smell of the highway, the guys fishing and couples making out, the flowers in curving beds, the bikers whistling a warning as they zip by, the epic bridges, a lone waterbird, construction everywhere, high school students wading among the pilings near 23rd Street.


Contest winners.

Muriel nailed it:
I'll venture a guess, but I won't be very precise with the details. It would have been easier if you had also bought eggs (the famous eggshell experiment).
As you bought both sugar cubes and extra fine sugar, I'm guessing you're going to work on solutions and mixtures. The fact that you bought different liquids might mean that you're going to work with different solvents.
Exp 1 : Use the same solvent (water) to time the dissolution of the same amount of sugar in cubes or fine. This could show that fine sugar dissolve more easily because it has more surface contact with solvent (I'm guessing that's a good enough explanation for middle school).
Exp 2: using the same amount of sugar, time the dissolution in different solvents (water, vinegar, cola, alcohol). This would show that different solvents dissolve the same thing at different rates. I'm not sure how far you would go in the scientific explanation of this.

and Kris made me laugh:
She has been presented with the tremendously difficult task of teaching 7 middle schoolers to work cooperatively. To do so, she challenges them to create an accurate replica of Scooby Doo in less than nine minutes using only the following materials: a box of sugar cubes, a box of super-fine sugar, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a bag of 50 plastic cups, and a box of 50 plastic spoons. Ten minutes later, she is faced with a semi-doglike structure, 7 grinning students and quite a mess from the 'glue' the team created by mixing rubbing alcohol and super-fine sugar. Being environmentally conscientious, she uses an entire bottle of white vinegar to clean up, and sits down to a well deserved meal: one of Annie's brand Indian microwave dinners and 3 bottles of Pepsi (she desperately needs that caffeine).

And so they will each find a cheesy - very cheesy - NYC postcard heading their way in the mail.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

From Tom Brokaw's commencement address to the Stanford class of 2006:
The memorable people for me represent that vast population of young and old of every hue and origin who gave up comforts and convention to answer their conscience, who are guided by their moral compass to difficult challenges and who are determined to make a difference. They lived in the real world and they took responsibility for it. They did not attach themselves simply to a virtual experience and find satisfaction in a search engine. They were boots on the ground, hands in the dirt, nights in scary places, healing and courageous. They stepped into the unknown and they made it more welcoming for the rest of us.

...These are difficult times. We are at war. And this war, as all wars are, is one freighted with mistakes and miscalculations, lethal consequences, highly charged emotions, defeats and successes. It is the debate in which we all have a say. I have a special place in my mind and in my heart for those who understand that patriotism is not a loyalty oath. I am never more proud to be an American than when a fellow citizen steps forward and says, "Can't we do better?"

In short,

I've been in California at my brother's graduation from Stanford, where I had lunch by the bay with phc and met the cute, sleepy, and extremely easy-to-get-along-with Olivia. Graduation events with my family - my brother graduated with a major in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, a thesis about labor history at Stanford, and a minor in Spanish and might be going into teaching - and a little nostalgia for my old campus. I still know when to jump when the LSJUMB plays "All Right Now"... Then a show at my friend's art space, CounterPulse, and a lovely breakfast with her. More graduation events and a little World Cup in the student union. My parents drove me to a friend's house party (it's been a long time since that happened!), where I unexpectedly knew almost everyone! So I got to catch up - however briefly - with people I haven't seen in years and others whom I see every year. My friends are union organizers, work with youth, sell t-shirts, work in the arts, teach... they are silly and smart and inspiring and good people, and I miss them. My brother gave a speech at graduation, we went out to dinner, I chatted with a friend of his who studied abroad in Turkey. It was a good weekend, and a whirlwind, and I am left a touch sunburned and asking myself the unsettling yet persistent question: Why don't I live in San Francisco?

Lots to say about a lot of things, no time - ever, any more - to say it. I spent most of today grading seventh grade final projects about climate change and sixth grade lab reports about solutions, so that I can enter all my grades tomorrow, prepare certificates for an awards ceremony, plan field day, and continue my search for an apartment. I'm nervous as hell about my work visa, but I don't yet have an address in Turkey and have been asking and asking... I'm supposed to be taking my typhoid vaccine to prepare for India but I had to order it from the stupid mail order pharmacy and it hasn't arrived and hasn't arrived. Neither have the malaria pills, though I don't take those for another week or so.

Things will ease up when school ends next Wednesday, but I have no interest in wishing away days. My head is in a thousand places, and sometimes leaves me feeling like the last person you'd want to know. Or maybe I just feel that way tonight.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Threadless shirts are cool but tend to shrink a little weird... but d*mn, do I wish I knew a geologist to buy this for. Especially 'cause it's only $10 right now. This one's pretty geeky fun, too. No, I don't know why I always like the brown ones best.