Reclaiming Experience

This blog is a tool for recording my experiences as well as evaluating my day-to-day life. With my camera in hand, I will make meaning out of my life.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 303: Halloween

Wow, that was crazy.  I knew my students would be hyper, but wow.  Drinks after work were much needed.  I had a great time relaxing after a candy fueled day.

I had to alter the picture to hide my students' faces.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 302: The Night Before All Hallows Eve

Tomorrow is the big day.  My first elementary Halloween (minus when I was a child).  This thing has been hovering over me since the beginning of the school year.  I will be happy when it is done.  While I'm trying to worry about the education of the students, I also had this stress of not have a lead parent and barely any volunteers.  Many e-mails went back and forth about what to do.  I got a little tired of it.  Luckily, someone stepped up and tomorrow we will have our party.  Now I just have to get my costume ready.

The truth is, something else is on my mind today...  I have officially booked my apartment in Paris!  I am going to be occupying 215 sq ft of the 2nd Arrondissement.  Visitors are welcome.

Paris Home

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 301: Funk

I'm not sure what was in me today, but I felt like I was in a funk.  Do you know where that term comes from?  I learned the story a few years ago while on a field trip with my students to Cantigny.  Sometimes soldiers would dig holes from the side of a trench to protect themselves from weather.  They would huddle in these holes called a funk.  Get it?  In a funk.
Warning: I did not take this picture (obviously).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 300: 65 Days Left

Wow, I have been writing this blog for 300 days.  That seems crazy.  I'm going for the home stretch now.  I better start making plans for what will happen after the blog is over...

I had a blast today.  Ashley is a crazy cheesehead that wanted to go up to Green Bay to see the Packers game.  Since I am a supportive friend, I tagged along.  Tickets were way too expensive, so we decided tailgating would be the best option.

Arriving in Green Bay is very different than going to Soldier Field in Chicago.  We parked on some family's lawn that was backed up to the field.  Everyone in the neighborhood spends their Sundays renting out their grass space.  I thought this was hilarious.

We went inside a heated tent to listen to music, drink, and watch the game.  It was so exciting to be in that energetic atmosphere.  Of course the Packers won.  Luckily the Bears won too.  I'd love to go back up to Green Bay again.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 299: Wine Night

Sometimes it is nice to just stay in with friends.  We listened to music, drank a couple bottles of wine, and talked about life.  It was simple, but it was great to catch up.  Now I just have to make sure all the broken glass is picked up from the fun.  Crystal got a little overexcited when she set down her glass. The picture shows what my glass looked like prior to the breaking.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 295: Self-Analysis

T-2 days until conferences.  I'm definitely feeling more nervous than I ever have for conferences.  This time it is all me; no longer a team effort.  As I was taking a bath tonight, I was thinking about my crazy obsession with trying to be the perfect teacher.  I know I'm not, but I also know I'm working on it.  It amazes me that teachers can somehow not take comments to heart.  It is almost as if they view teaching in a business-like matter.  I wonder if I can do that.  Right now I take everything personally because so much of myself goes into my work.  Maybe if I could view it as, "they don't prefer my method," rather than "they don't like me," then maybe I could take it better.  This has got to be my most insecure area.

I wonder if most people have places where they do their best thinking.  I come up with my best ideas on walks with Kendra and while taking a bath.  I think they are both places where I'm not really distracted by anything, so I can just think. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 293: Stunt Man

Today my dad embarked on yet another adventure.  The adrenaline junkie wanted to fly in a plane and perform a bunch of stunts.  This is yet another activity that is not on my bucket list.  It is pretty cool that he was able to feel weightlessness though.  That is something I would like to experience.  I think he had another good day.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 292: No Work Today

I am taking a break from work today to do some things I have been wanting to do.  Last night I did a serious apartment search and I may have found one for my month long stay.  My goal is to spend $100 a day or less.  Here is one of the possibilities if you want to see: apartment.

I also went for a fall walk with Kendra down by the river.  We ran into a cute little pug while out.  Kendra is definitely getting calmer.  She doesn't even really care anymore if another dog is around.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 291: Time

Today was a half day at school and the work time in the afternoon was much needed.  We were supposed to use the time to prepare for conferences next week, but I found myself preparing for sub plans.  I found out this week that I will be out Monday and Tuesday for training.  It took me about three hours to complete my sub plans. Ridiculous!  It used to only take about a half an hour.  Guess what I get to do this weekend now... Prepare for conferences.  Oh well, I'm not working on that until Sunday.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 290:The Wild and the Tame

Who doesn't have a few versions of themselves?  I find myself changing daily, sometimes momentarily.  How does one be all of the versions of themselves that they are?  While browsing Facebook this evening and protesting against my writing homework assignment, I came across a quotation that brought some life to my brain.  
“What should I do about the wild and the tame? The wild heart that wants to be free, and the tame heart that wants to come home. I want to be held. I don't want you to come too close. I want you to scoop me up and bring me home at nights. I don't want to tell you where I am. I want to keep a place among the rocks where no one can find me. I want to be with you.” By Jeanette Winterson.
        Class was interesting tonight.  I didn't exactly follow the assignment, but I definitely got a lot of feedback.  The peak moment of the night happened as I left.  One of the guys in our group pulled me aside and told me that he wishes if anyone of us could actually move on to be a writer, that it would be me.  I asked why and he said he thought I had such passion and that I could actually do it.  I've seen this guy for 2 hours for 5 nights and it appears that I have made some sort of impact.  How amazing. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 289: Blocked

I'm having a hard time deciding what to write about for my homework assignment.  We have two choices.  We can write about a childhood memory, or write about something we've never told anyone.  I don't really want to write about either, but I'll probably go with the second option.

On a more positive note, I have made my decision about Novel Writing Month.  I am going to write, but in my own way.  I don't really want to write a novel right now.  Instead, I want to put my writing energy towards my travel guide.  I am going to dedicate a minimum of one hour per day towards writing for the entire month of November (yes, even Thanksgiving).  I might as well work on what I want.  My novel ideas will wait.  I will use the remainder of this month to do some research about my topic.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 288: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Writing has been a recurrent thought this past month.  I started my writing class, and I find myself wanting to write more and more.  I think the only reason someone stops writing has to do with confidence.  The longer you are away from it, the easier it is to procrastinate and second guess your ability.  I have found that I am constantly hit with subliminal writing messages lately.  I keep seeing movies about writers.  There have been so many interviews on TV with writers.  This weekend, National Novel Writing Month ignited a challenge I may be willing to take.  Today, there was a blog about how to stop procrastinating and start writing your book.  I even told my students that I may write a book in November.  Now that is pressure.  I can't let those little 5th graders down.  

I have never taken on a challenge so big.  I feel like this is way grander than grad school.  That was easy.  I can be a student.  This involves me actually trying with the possibility of failing.  I knew I wouldn't fail being a grad student.  Being a learner is one of the best things I do.  If I go for this, I have to complete it.  It is pretty intense.  Not to mention November is a crazy month to try this.  I was going to say that I think I will decide by tomorrow morning, but I think my mind is already made up.  It is time to write this thing that I've thought of since high school.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 287: Write a Novel?

I remember learning about National Writing Month last November, but thinking there was no way I could do it with grad school.  Well, that is over now.  Although I don't feel like I have extra time, I do.  I think I may go for it this year.  The novel has to be 50,000 words and written in one month.  I've been trying to think of topics today, and I come back to an idea I had several years ago.  It is funny because I've kind of outgrown the fantasy phase in my life, but I still want to write this book that I have in mind.  It allows me to put my science knowledge to use.  We will see...

Dad and I went to a German restaurant for lunch.  It was fun to pretend I was back in Germany.  When I got home, the weather service had issued a tornado warning.  Luckily, I was not blown away.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 286: I Love You, Saturday.

Saturday is by far the best day of the week.  Even better when I've got some time to work on whatever I want.  My main task today has been to work on my website for the contest.  I found a different website builder today and it is way better than what I was using.  I'm glad this isn't due till March.  I think I'll tackle most of it during winter break. I enjoy working on it here and there though.  Here is a screen shot to show you what it is looking like so far.

Not only do I get to enjoy my day, but also evening.  I'm ready for some Mike and Joe at Fatty's!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 285: Mini Memoir Take 2

I thought this morning about my memoir and was really not digging it.  I picked way too big of a topic for such a small piece.  After some thought, I returned to a previous idea.  I'd written part of it to a friend, so all I had to do was tweak it.  The class loved it.  They were quoting phrases that meant something to them.  If I win this contest, then I'll be a really happy girl.  Here is what I came up with:

Midnight Dip in the Mediterranean
Was it the abundant wine, late hour, or vast sea that made us abandon care?  We surrendered versions of ourselves that rarely escape.  Some removed constricting clothing.  Others seemed forgetful after wandering in with money belts still on.  We embraced the opportunity to be liberated. 
Sounds of simple pleasures filled our little piece of the beach.  Laughing, conversations, and the splash, splash of the skipping stones (or sometimes plunk) teased our ears.  Some people drifted off to sea, while others got to know hidden fragments of new friends.  Life is good.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 284: Mini Memoir

Tomorrow I turn in my 91-word memoir.  I wrote about five of these.  The goal was to include a meaningful moment with humor and wit.  I'm not sure if I have conveyed any humor, but I think there may be a little wit.  It is hard to include so much into such few words.  I'll look at it again one more time tomorrow to revise, but here it is so far:

Field Trip
We stumbled putting on scrubs, hairnets, and booties.  Mom was recovering from surgery as the surgeon beckoned us to go behind the scenes.  It felt like we were finally freed from a time-out.  We entered once all parts were contained.  Sitting in the middle of the room was something like a massage chair, only the apparatus was used to hold mom during her brain surgery.  It emitted a chill that traveled through me.  Perhaps it was the cooler temperature, or maybe the vision I had of mom sitting there. 

Today's picture shows mom before her surgery.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 282: Not a Fan of Columbus, but Definitely a Fan of Columbus Day

Talk about needing a Monday off.  I have accomplished so much today.  I am actually thinking forward a little in terms of my next homework assignment.  It is a contest.  We have to write a 91 word memoir.  My class has suggested that I stick with the toilet theme from my last assignment, but I'm not sure.  Our chances of winning increase if we include wit  and humor.  Our instructor told us that a memoir should highlight peaks and valleys in our lives.  If I stick with the toilet idea, I will need to connect a theme to make it more full of meaning.

To help me start the rapid typing, I need to do some brainstorming.  I think I'll start with the peaks and valleys of my life:

Valleys-Mother's tumor, Granddad's death, NIU shooting, Unhappiness with Career

Peaks-Going to the Bulls 70th win when I was in 4th grade, winning the DARE essay contest in middle school, Ireland trip, getting my first career before I graduated from college, moving to my first apartment, going to Paris, going to Venice, going to New Orleans the first time, going to Provence, going on my summer trip

Hmm, maybe I'll actually pick a valley for this topic if I stick with the toilet idea, perhaps something about being in my quarter-life crisis stage of my life...

On a side note, I was watching Moliere tonight and there was a line that I thought was interesting.  Of course it was in French, but the English translation was something like, "the best work comes when you are most tired."  I wonder if that is true.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 281: Going Home

Shortly after waking up this morning, I checked my e-mail.  I saw a couple that actually possessed my thoughts for most of the day.  The first was an article about a teacher leaving his job to become a ninja (well, sort of).  Here is the article if you are interested.  Another was about a guide to becoming a tour guide.  This woman uses guiding to pay for her trips to France.  How awesome, right?  I am uncertain if guiding is right for me, but it is definitely fun to consider.  As I was driving home from Indianapolis today, I was thinking about what kind of tours I would want to run.  I think I would like to create tours for independent travelers.  Basically, for people like me that want to travel, but may not have someone to go with.  I thought my experience this summer was just the best and I think it would be amazing to create opportunities for people just like me.  When I think about wanting to be a writer, it is because I want to share my love for travel and encourage others to learn.  Really, that is what guiding does.  

The only reason I am just "considering" guiding is because I don't know how the reality of the career compares to my vision.  I am going to talk to my tour guide from this summer later this month, so I am hoping to really get some insight about the perks and downfalls.  I was thinking I could try some basic walking tours in Chicago to really get a feel for what it is like.  I could always con my friends into being my test subjects. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day 280: Indiana Wine Trail

Today's goal was to tackle part of the Indiana Wine Trail.  Completion of the trail results in a prize wine glass that notes the wineries visited.  The trail is composed of 6 wineries.  We attempted three on this journey.  Our road trip to Southern Indiana exposed the initial fall foliage.  It was a cool, sunny day; perfect for wine tasting.  

On a sadder note, I did something horrible today.  On our way to the first winery, I hit a dog.  I want to say there was nothing I could do, but who knows if that is true.  I was closely following a truck with a trailer and without warning, he braked hard and swerved.  I was trying to figure out what he was doing when the little fluffy white dog appeared.  I tried to break and swerve (without hitting another car), but he/she was squared straight with my tire.  My aunt said it was a fast death.  I looked in the rear view mirror to see the dog, but I couldn't see it.  As I looked ahead, I saw another white fluffy dog and what I thought was the owner.  I drove a bit before I decided I needed to go back to apologize to the owners.  I went back, but could not find the dog or owner.  I killed someone's Kendra.  I can't believe I took a life today. 

Although I felt horrible for what I did, I tried not to let it ruin the day.  Our evening finished with a family and friend dinner.  My favorite part, of course, was discussing plans for next summer with some of my favorite travel partners.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 279: Stuck in Traffic

Advice to future self, don't drive to Indianapolis on a Friday night.  I had this problem before, but it was ridiculous this time.  A trip that can normally take me three hours ended up taking four and a half.  After a day of work, this drive felt more like eight.  Traffic stopped four different times; the longest slow down forced us to lose forty minutes.  People probably thought my mom and I were losing it because we were really belting out songs to help us get through the trip.  The ride was rough, but reaching our destination made it worth it.  I don't know if I have expressed it well enough on this blog, but I love spending time with my aunts.  If only they all lived close enough.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 278: Homework

Here is my rough draft for my homework assignment.  It is nice we don't have to feel rushed to bring in final copies.

The sheets were no longer neatly ironed in a bed recently made.  Part of the comforter was half-hanging on the bed, and partly lying on the hotel room floor.  My yellow raincoat was scrunched up at the end of the bed, waiting to be used.  Day seven of our tour was beginning, but this meant the journey was coming to an end.  I turned on my Walkman, and put on my headphones.  As I listened to “Whiskey in the Jar,” I looked at those sheets and felt a connection.
My world had become disheveled.  I had traveled to different states, but this was my first time visiting a foreign continent.  It turns out there are other people in the world, and some of them have really cool accents.  I don’t always know what they are saying, but they seem so charming.  In fact, they seem much nicer than Americans.  They sing together at bars, and give tours of their fire stations.  One boy even tried to talk to me.  I didn’t immediately know what he was asking for, but my new Irish ears finally understood that he was asking about the time.  Maybe this moment would not be memorable for others, but I feel like no one ever approaches me.
My eyes were overstimulated with new scenes and my mind struggled to process all of my senses.  As I sit here in my new pink baseball tee that says “princess,” I think of the first shocking moment to shift my life view at fourteen.  As we were wandering the streets of Dublin, we came up to a group of decrepit looking bronze statutes.  In the memorial you see seven people with a dog growling angrily in back.  These people are about seven feet tall, and drained of any excess fat.  Some are carrying bags, while one is carrying a body.  The faces eerily plead for a break in the suffering, but they continue walking.  How could I not have learned about this historical time period in my history classes?  I would have never known about the potato famine if it weren’t for the education from my aunts.
As I sit in the hotel chair looking at the bed, my mom interjects, “Have you finished packing?”
“Unfortunately,” I admit.
“Did you get your picture of the toilet yet?”  she questions.
Not only do these people have accents, but they also have different toilets.  Our rear ends seem to be shaped the same, so I wonder what the reasoning for the different toilet seats is about.  I find it amusing, so I take pictures.
Beyond little delights, I also reminisce about other new sights.  I was so excited to take my dad’s big camera on the trip.  As I sit here taking in my last moments in the hotel room, I hope that my photos turn out.  I’m pretty new to photography, but I know the placement and alignment of the Cliffs of Moher are going to impress my dad and granddad.  I can still feel the wind and spray from the waves colliding into the cliff.  My sinuses feel free after the salty air enters my nose.  I’ve seen coastlines before, but never been so high that a plummet would equal death.