Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lessons Learned

Now that I'm done with formal education and, consequently, have a lot of time on my hands, I've been contemplating some of the recent lessons I've learned. These are completely random, but are also based solely on personal experience.

1st: never go to a child's birthday party unless you have a child of your own or are married and trying to have children. I went to a resent two-year-old's birthday last month. I grew up with her parents and am consequently very close to this little girl, so I thought it would be fun going to her birthday party. Well, needless to say, I will not be going to another little girl's birthday while I'm single.'s going to be a while.

2nd: dry goods actually can go bad. Two experiences in one weekend - tried eating Premium crackers with soup and discovered with much disappointment that they definitely Then I took a bite of an Oreo cookie that I've been saving for a rainy day (coincidentally, today) and found it to be less than crunchy. Now if these were home-baked cookies, I'd like them to be soft, but not Oreos.

3rd: salsa, when opened, actually has a longer shelf-life than nacho cheese and my grandma's famous jam. This made me quite sad since I adore grandma's jam and wish it didn't have a giant splotch of mold floating on top.

4th: through a series of unfortunate events, I've found that the only "person" I can rely on is Jesus Christ. I've mentioned it before, but people are embarrassingly unreliable even for the smallest things, so if I care to get anything done, I must remember to do as much as humanly possible myself and leave the rest up to God.

5th: always, ALWAYS have a plan B. And in some cases a plan C wouldn't be too bad either; because when things fall through, (as they inevitably will), a backup plan is an absolute must. For instance, if you plan on meeting up with someone at a non-social event it is prudent to bring along something to read -- a book, magazine, a pamphlet on how to avoid STDs -- so you're not waiting awkwardly at a coffee shop, park, or restaurant. And if they the other person is late or doesn't come at all, at least you have something to do and not look like the awkward loner sitting at an empty table.

6th: the more I'm single, the more I want to remain this way for sheer comfortableness. The phrase: "can't teach an old dog new tricks" comes to mind without bitterness. I look around and see couples -- either married or dating -- and wonder how they ever got past the uncomfortable first-few-dates stage. Then I wonder how some make it look incredibly easy and natural, while others make it look like an impossible chore that they have to do in order to still 'have someone'. Finally I remember that I don't have to think about any of that because I only have me to think about. I give a sigh of relief, let me tell you.

7th: God WILL open the window as he slams the door shut on your butt, just be prepared to fly. I'm learning to be more in-tuned with the voice of God lately because He's had to pretty much slap me upside the head with what He's trying to tell me. The biggest decision has been about finding work for next year and I have been applying and interviewing at different schools; now I have to let God show me where He wants me to go. Believe me, giving this decision to Him is not an easy task for this control freak.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A slice of substitute teaching

Today I worked at my old high school substituting for my old soccer coach. He teaches junior English, and since I am a newly certified English teacher, I was excited about actually getting to teach English. Alas, it was not to be today. Since it is the last day of their semester, students were working on late assignments and putting the finishing touches on their book report packet.

But today wasn't all monotony -- in fact, it was full of interesting coincidences and "it's a small world" moments. I even had a packet of apology letters to read from a choir class that bombed while I tried unsuccessfully to teach them earlier this week. It was sweet, and I appreciated it, although I'm sure none of the students actually meant any of it.
To start with, a few of the students in 3rd period recognized me -- not because I subbed for their class before -- but because I am my brother's older sister. I had walked around the room at the beginning of class to make sure everyone was on task, and walked away from a guy telling two other guys "Yeah, that's Nathaniel's sister." I thought, how could you possibly know we're related? We look a little bit alike, but not so much that you can put two and two together. Another thing, 'Scott' is a fairly common last name, so I'm not sure where they instantly recognized me as his sister. It is a sad day when you're known only as a younger sibling's sister.
Now 3rd period was kinda a disaster class. They were disrespectful and rude -- neither one of these traits scored points with me, so I was glad when they left for lunch.

4th period rolls around after lunch and I looked forward to a new batch of students. Any time I have a poor batch of students, I always hope to do better with the next class, so I was hoping to avoid some of the situations from 3rd period right away. First off, I noticed right away that I had two foreign exchange students in my class, one from India and the other one from Holland. It's always nice having foreign exchange students because I like learning about their country/culture. Although both boys were nice, they were very social, and I had to remind them several times to stay on task and be quiet (as I had to do with the rest of the class). Again, I was referred to as "Nathaniel's sister". I need my own reputation apart from family members.
However, a young man comes up to me before the bell rings and asks if I remember him. I asked him if I should remember him. Come to find out he is the younger brother of an old friend/classmate of mine. Coincidentally his father was my first boss and he used to come into the shop all the time with his parents and hang out. Wow, he looks different with a full on beard and braces.

After school I talked with a teacher I am hoping to do a long-term sub job with and find out that he's a WOU graduate too. Not only that, he and I went there for two years together for undergrad. It's a wonder I don't recognize him from campus.

It truly is a small world after all. I feel like singing now. All this about 6 degrees of separation is freakishly true -- only for small town people, I think it's more like 2 degrees.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things I've done, things still yet to do

Things I've accomplished today:

1. Successfully misdirected two choirs at the high school while subbing.
2. Returned business cards at Office Max for $15.79
3. Wrote two schools in Seoul explaining that I very much want a job with them. They were identical letters.
4. Learned about the "Johari Window" from Fringe.
4. Worked on my never-ending crochet blanket.
5. Demonstrated to my brother and sister that I can defend myself in case a rapist attacked me and tried to choke me.
6. Forced my dog into a giant dishwasher box with me and laughed until he started crying.

Things to do tomorrow:
1. Find a substitute job for the day.
2. Call the court and figure out why I've been selected for jury duty in both Portland and Pendleton on the same day. I live in neither city or the county they reside in.
3. If I do not get a sub job, go to Stanfield and beg for one.
4. Complete the Indonesian teacher application form, even though it's for a middle school position.
5. Figure out how to write a decent cover letter and send it to the Mariana Islands school district.
6. Go to church dinner at 6pm.
7. Watch American Idol (taped version).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

List of the day

If you haven't realized it yet, my life is dictated by lists. I write them on my hand, the little notepad on my computer, and scraps of paper I find lying around.

Things to do today:
1. Substitute a half day (check)
2. Finish reading book at Starbucks (check)
3. Wash dishes (check)
4. Take dog for a walk (check)
5. Successfully start and maintain a fire in the wood-stove (check)
6. Check for jobs for tomorrow
7. Check job application status
8. Practice guitar
9. Practice piano
10. Work on crochet quilt
11. Work on novel
12. Find a manuscript reader, agent, and publisher
13. Make list of 100 things I've already accomplished
14. Bible study at 7pm
15. Watch "Hairspray"
16. Go to bed. :)

There's a lot to do today, and it's already 2:33. I better get crackin.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

To work or not to work?

That is the question.

If we played it the way school districts want, then we would never work again. I just got off the phone with a couple school districts, and I'll tell ya, it is so damn difficult to get a job these days. They need so many identification forms -- social security card, passport, birth certificate, driver's license -- sheesh, I am who I say I am, can't they accept that? They say not to carry around your passport or social security card in your wallet in case you get mugged or something. Being a law-abiding citizen, I don't carry these forms of identification on me. So now when I try to apply for jobs, they say that I need these forms. Well too bad, I don't have them. Deal with it.

And so they do. By not giving me a job.

I wish I had a birth certificate. Alas, the government in their infinite wisdom has chosen not to release mine to me because I do not have clearance high enough to request my own damn birth certificate. Just as well, I suppose, since I have always been a woman without solid roots -- why not just take away my birth too? Talk about a low blow. I am now without a valid birth. What else is new?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ring in the new year

I decided a few days before Christmas that I wanted to have a New Years resolution. Now since I refused to have resolutions for the past nine or ten years, it's time to start using up my resolution tab. I do have some legitimate resolutions, but I also have some goals I'd like to accomplish. You see, resolutions have come to imply some kind of breaking of bad habit, or a start of new, good habits. It is no longer a resolve, or a vow, to do something -- at least not how Americans interpret the word in connection to the new year.

So without further adieu, here are my new years resolutions:

1. Get rid of 20 pounds by June. I say 'get rid of' because it is not simply a matter of 'losing' the weight, I know where it is going, and it is going away from me. I plan on doing this by eating smaller portions of food, eating the right kinds of food, walking/jogging every weekday, utilizing the weight room since I paid hundreds of dollars for it already, and finally by toning my arms by lifting the little 5-pounders. I looked at my license earlier today and noticed the weight I was when I first got my license at the ripe age of 17. It would be amazing if I ever dropped down to that again. Since my license expires on my birthday this year, I'd really like it if when I renew my license, the weight category does not need to change....
2. Secure a teaching job overseas. Now I can find a job here in the states, and probably even here in Oregon, but I'd rather not. I need a change. I feel a need to cleanse my pallet, as it were, by putting myself in a very different teaching environment with very different students and a very different teaching staff. Public schools are incredibly restricting and I would loathe every minute teaching in an American public school. So far I've applied to one job in Korea and am looking into another one in the South Pacific.
3. Push myself out of my comfort zone in a way that is more positive than negative. What I mean by this is that I do try to get out of my comfort zone when the opportunity arises; however, I usually feel miserable most of the time. I want to work on changing my attitude toward being in different or unusual situations. Most of the time this will mean meeting new people and forcing myself to enjoy it and make the best of the situation instead of withdrawing from the social circle and secluding myself. Really it comes down to making other people feel comfortable and not being so self-absorbed.
4. Deepen my relationship with Christ. So far God has been extremely lenient with me in terms of reaching out to me. He has come to me on my terms, in ways that I would understand Him humanly. This should not always be the case. Sure, I am only human and would only be able to understand Him as such; however, I have made little effort to get to know my Savior on a daily basis in many years, and I'd like to consistently dive into His Word and stay in contact with Him more. Also, I'd like to get more involved in my church. I have no excuses not to, so here I go -- I'm diving in.
5. Earn $6000 in savings. Originally I had budgeted for $8000, but since finding jobs is a bit more challenging than I remember it being a year ago, I'll shoot for something more reasonable and say $6000. In any case, that will be more than enough to pay for two summer vacations. I have a part-time job to keep me busy on the weekends, so during the week, I will be scouring the countryside for substitution jobs. This may entail me driving back and forth between Hermiston and Monmouth, but I really don't care. I need to pay the bills.
6. Drink less alcohol. Since this is a vague statement, let me elaborate: I will allow myself twelve drinking occasions. If I really wanted to budget my drinking habits, I would drink alcohol once a month, but this is really quite flexible, and as long as I do not go over the twelve times, then it makes no difference to me if I do it all in one month. Since I am by no means an alchy, I think this is a very attainable goal.
7. Strengthen my relationship with my siblings. I've been working on this unofficially with my brother ever since I moved off to college, but tragically, my relationship with my sister has fallen to the wayside and I will need to improve on this this year.
8. Spend less money and eat at home more. I need to learn how to say 'no' to friends who want to eat out -- even if it's just for coffee/tea. As it is, coffee costs just as much as Yangs, so the price verses how much it fills you can not be compared.
9. Learn to be okay with being the third wheel. I'm always the third wheel, but since I don't really care to start cutting out all my friends who are in relationships, I want to be content in the situation. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds." This is a trial that I must bear, and I will do it well, gosh darn it.
10. Walk at graduation, and convince the new graduates to sing happy birthday to me as I'm walking up to get my diploma. It's my 25th birthday, why shouldn't I celebrate?

Thus ends my list of resolutions. I don't know how long they will last, but I'm hoping that by sharing these with the world, that you can all help keep me accountable.