Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Beginnings

Before I moved to New York City, I had (what I considered) a pretty awesome life back in Seattle. I worked at a fairly established tech company and had excellent rapport with my coworkers. My best friend shared the same office space as me, and in between meetings and intense coding sessions, we would tell each other off-color jokes and disparage the new college hires via email lists. (We would always look up people's photos in the directory when they made stupid comments / posed stupid questions to an email group, and I would usually make fun of that person's picture. Paul usually tried unsuccessfully to soften my "hate", even though my teammates all agreed that my sarcasm was usually pretty entertaining.) Sometimes, we would practice handstands out in the hallway. One Christmas, we stole the life-sized Elvis displays from the company party while drunk, and brought one of them into work the next week as our third officemate. I'm not sure, but that could also have been the same Christmas when we got our boss to sing bad Christmas carols every time he stepped foot in our office during Christmas season. :) I had made a group of amazing friends in the area, and was starting to build a regular schedule of mentoring, hanging out, and dancing... Most of all, I loved living next to a farmer's market and the water, among people who biked everywhere and who adored books and coffee.

When I decided to move to New York to teach, I actually felt more anxiety than excitement. New York was going to be a big city, and I was going to come here alone. I did not know if I had made the right decision. My boss and his boss tried to keep me. I wasn't swayed, only because I had already made a commitment to the NYC Teaching Fellows. Somewhere out there, I had believed, was another life for me to live -- an experience that would help shape me.

--And, it most definitely has. It is now three years later; I feel the same way about New York now, as I had once felt about Seattle. I can't say that I am the same person I was back then. New York -- or age -- has calmed me down much. My students certainly have changed me, for better or worse. I find these days that I have less to say in casual conversations, but I am also less self-conscious and more direct. I am more appreciative of people and situations, because I know that things could always get worse. (Kids could be throwing carrots inside your classroom daily and requesting a class bunny.) Now, as my next big move approaches, I feel anxious as I once did -- but mostly because I know that I will miss swing-dancing when I am abroad. It has become such a huge part of my life; I have met some wonderful people in New York because of it, that I can't fathom how I am going to transition out of this life.

But, I know that another life awaits me. :) Things I probably can't appreciate now, I will learn to, in time. For me, that is why I keep moving around, even though loss is inevitable in that process. It helps me appreciate new things, and new people. Brilliant engineers, bikers, marathon-runners, inner-city teachers who work tirelessly, dancers who will do anything to stay in New York, entrepreneurs who couch-surf until their next paycheck... I look back often on the places and people I remember, and it fills my heart with joy to know that I am still blessed with those friendships, near and far, and that those memories will always remain in my heart.

There are places I remember
All my life
Though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Learning Spanish!

Geoff and I started listening to Pimsleur audio lessons for Spanish. They are fantastic, even though they move a little slow for my taste. The audio lessons are roughly 30 minutes in length each, and they consist of new vocabulary phrases being introduced, broken down phonetically, and then the "moderator" calls out a bunch of English phrases quickly, pausing for you to repeat the correctly conjugated Spanish versions, and then the native speakers pronounce the correct words again. This quizzing modality drills the vocabulary, as well as pronunciation.

--I like it. :) The only trouble is that we have 90 lessons to get through, and thus far Geoff and I have only found one day to sit down and go through 3 lessons! It is worrying me a bit, as we are going to be very busy again this week / weekend with work and dancing stuff.

Anyway, this is all we know thus far (not yet enough to help us apartment-hunt down in ES, but it's something):

Como esta usted? (How are you?)
Bien, gracias. Y usted? (Fine, thank you. And you?)
Muy bien, gracias. (Very well, thanks.)
Entiendez Ingles? (Do you understand English?)
No. No entiendo. Habla Castellano? (No. I don't understand. Do you speak Spanish?)
Hablo un poco. Soy Norteamericana. (I speak a little. I'm American.)
De donde es usted? (Where are you from?)
Soy de Nueva York. (I am from New York.)

Excuse the bad spellings. Remember, these are audio lessons... Adios!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


There are only 7 weeks left between now and the end of school! After June, I will be traveling around the Northwest (squeezing in some last-minute swing dancing) and then heading to El Salvador! Craziness.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying New York in all of its spring loveliness. :) The mirrors at the weekly swing dance are starting to fog up because of the humidity + body heat, but I'm not complaining. I know I will miss it dearly when it's gone.