How To: Enjoy a Long Weekend in Texas

Step 1 – Meet old friend at baggage claim and awkwardly skip-run into each other’s arms. 

Step 2 – Use two different phones and absolutely no knowledge of Dallas to get lost for hours, venturing onto toll roads, back roads and m****rf*****g commerce way, until finally finding and touring Dealy Plaza. 


Step 3 – Stay in a fancy hotel for the night, planning to drink numerous a’Rita’s from the gas station, only to stay up late talking and fall asleep mid sentence. 

Step 4 – Enjoy continental breakfast, steal everything they won’t charge you for from the room. 

Step 5 – Go to friend’s house in Wichita Falls, see improve show, get drunk and talk about politics after being called a yankee and responding “my state wasn’t involved in that war…”

Step 6 – Go to friends hometown, meet her hilarious friends, go to lake to cool off and drink all the drinks. 


Step 7 – Wake up the next morning wondering why you are still wearing a swimsuit, why the words ‘crown royale’ make you nauseous, and where your toothbrush is. 

Step 8 – Go kayaking hungover. For five hours!

Step 9 – Drive a car for the first time in two years but just briefly. Feel 15 again and decide driving is still not for you. 

Step 10 – Go back to Wichita Falls, take a Benadryl because you are insanely allergic to Texas and konk out for the whole ride. 

Step 11 – Go hiking in Oklahoma on this trail, oh wait is that a snake, never mind, this trail nope that’s a snake, no, this trail, no snakes, awesome, wait where’s the trail?


Step 12 – Head back to Dallas for the flight home but magically find extra time and a Buccee’s. Buy tourist-y goods and delicious salsa. 

Step 13 – Say goodbye, promise to come back soon, know you will. 


Best of luck.

Dos and Don’ts of Flying

Do Know the Rules and Regs

I know it’s a lot, but TSA has a website and every airport has information centers you can call. You need to know if your bag will fit. You need to be prepared for security. Do your homework.*

Don’t take over the armrest

If the thing you are doing requires you to enter my personal space, ask yourself how necessary it is. If it is extremely necessary, make it happen fast and apologize for elbowing me in the ribs (lookin at you lady-from-yesterday’s-flight).

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Do pack snacks. 

One time I bought an orange juice at an airport Starbucks and it was $8.

Eight. What.

Airports are like theme parks except airports allow you to bring food in so, get you some snacks before you get to the airport and save a dime. Or eight dollars.

Eight!

Don’t shame a parent because their child is crying. 

I don’t like screaming children, you don’t like screaming children, their parents don’t like it either. But there is nothing they can do so, buck up buttercup, life is hard and the babies feel it all.

Do pack water. 

An empty water bottle is allowed through TSA and can be easily filled at a water fountain past security. Planes are dry and flying does weird stuff to your body so hydrate.

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Don’t play your sh*t out loud

This is a rule for life I think. If you are in a public space and you’re watching videos or listening to music, use headphones. Because, are you kidding me, don’t be a d*ckhead.

Best of luck

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*If you haven’t already researched it, look up ID requirements for 2018 flights. The laws are changing and certain state licenses won’t be accepted.

Dos and Don'ts of Flying (1)

I Couldn’t Hate Them If I Tried

Something I’ve learned many times before but continue to learn every day is that nothing in education will turn out as expected. The “solid gold” lessons won’t be received as you imagined (or hoped), the “total crap” lessons will hit some just right, and the emotions and break-downs and fights you expect will not happen when you expect them.

My first term as a high school teacher just ended in December and nothing went as I expected. Kids I thought would throw fits over failing didn’t, kids I thought would fail pulled it out at the last second and some that I thought would pass lost their momentum too soon.

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Overwhelmingly though: I am continually floored by how much I love these kids. How much I want to hug them when they cry and tell them it’ll work out even though it feels terrible right now.

I push them hard every day, nobody is allowed to take the L. I expect greatness from everyone, no one is mediocre. I don’t hand out good grades until they’ve been earned. I get called mean on the regular, I’m always “extra” and “doing too much.” I get mad sometimes because CAN EVERYONE STOP TALKING OVER ME?

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But still, when they celebrate, I celebrate. Nothing is better than seeing that smile they tried to hide when they find out they passed.

And when they cry, I cry. Nothing is harder than seeing the despair they’re trying to hide when they find out they won’t pass.

There was this small part of my brain that thought I’d feel justified and righteous handing out failing marks to those kids that have blown off the work and made bad choices. Because I’m teaching them lessons in social studies but I’m also teaching about consequences and professionalism. I thought somehow it might feel good to give a well-earned failing mark.

I was surprised at how much it hurts me when they hurt, even when the pain is necessary.

I’ve known these kids for three months, but something clicked in the hall with Elle while I held her and let her cry through my sweater. Something clicked when Steven laughed out loud at the news of passing my class and couldn’t stop grinning. Something clicked when Kam came in late to study hall and begged me to let him finish his work and pass, and his relief when I let him.

These kids are magic. And I am forever honored to be connected to them in even the smallest way.

Best of luck.

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Millennials Are Not Idiots

Hi. My name’s Becca and I’m a millennial.

I like Snapchat and Instagram, I send a lot of obnoxious selfies to people I haven’t spoken to in person in months. I spend a lot of time considering my identity and watching Netflix. I know too much about the Kardashians. I write a damn blog. I tweet my feelings about politics, religion and ice cream. I don’t really remember the world before everyone I’ve ever met was at my fingertips.

I don’t know any recipes by heart, I can’t name the presidents in order, and I am not totally confident that I can spell, well, anything. I don’t need most of that information anymore because it’s with me all the time, on my phone, on my computer, buzzing around in the cloud. Instead of focusing on memorized facts, I can develop theories and skills.

Here’s the thing: millennials aren’t dumb, they aren’t selfish, and they aren’t irresponsible. We inherited a pretty rough landscape from our forbearers. I have heard the stereotypes and BS arguments a thousand times:

She’s living with her parents?? She’s 28! She should get a job! Getting a job nowadays is not as simple as walking from store to store and handing out resumes. You need high school and college and then grad school to get to basically anything worthwhile.

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So then, sure, I’ll go through all of that schooling and then just get a job, right? Wrong, brother. To land a real job in your field, you’ll need some unpaid work, probably while working another job for income. Yeah, many of us moved back in with our parents and you should probably step off.

We’re trying to fix things and make the world a little better, maybe while checking tumblr. Or maybe we’re staring at our phones because we’re looking for a job online, maybe we’re reading an article about how absolutely f****d this country is politically, maybe we’re emailing our mom, or maybe we’ve forgotten why we unlocked it because we’re so. damn. tired.

Millennials work hard. And sometimes we’re little sh*ts. And sometimes we’re deeply poetic or innovative or charitable. We are a great many things that none of the aggressive, facebook-pandering, condescending articles out there can take away.

Step off, bro, we’re fabulous.

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Oh, and…

Best of luck.

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Positive Charge

Today is going to be a good day.

This is what I tell myself everyday when I wake up, hoping that one day it won’t be followed by “I think, maybe, well at least it probably, hopefully won’t be the worst day ever. Unless it is. Oh no. I’m so behind on homework.”

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I would not consider myself a natural optimist. Nor would anyone who has ever met me. I am a sarcastic, hot headed and often negative individual. This is despite the fact that I know negativity gets me absolutely nowhere and positivity can push me to fascinating new places. I know this, I do. I also know that ice cream is bad for me and running is good for me but I wore my leggings this morning because of the utility of the stretch waistband, not for my afternoon run. Facts may be facts by my ability to ignore them is the real wonder.

I bring this up because this week was…weird.

On the negative side of things: I was stood up by my therapist, twice. I had to say goodbye to my students forever. The electricity in my apartment has stopped consistently working. I got hit (bumped really, but still) by a car, while crossing in a crosswalk.

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However, for the positive side: I passed my first teacher certification test, I presented my oral history project and it went swimmingly, and I taught a history lesson (all of WWII in 55 minutes, mind you) and it went so well the kids petitioned for me to keep teaching for the year.

While the bad was pretty bad, the good was pretty damn good. And yet I find myself bending to the negativity and focusing on that bad stuff.

Far too many times in my life, I have been the negative voice and it hasn’t done much for me. It’s just easier. It’s easy to decide that something is stupid and make fun of it and hate every moment involved with it; it’s much harder to decide it’s maybe not for you but still has value, or maybe it isn’t valuable but you have to deal with it. And if you have to do something, better to do it with a little bit of light than a whole lot of darkness.

So here’s to a shinier future for our outlook and our hair.

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Best of luck!

Holidays!

Motivation Monday: Survival

I’m a big believer in living a happy life full of challenges. I’ve undertaken many things in my life that I knew were going to be tough, really tough, but probably, hopefully worth it (cough, Peace Corps, cough).

So when this popped up on Tumblr this morning my initial thought was yeah!* But then I reconsidered.

“Just surviving” conjures thoughts of drowning in schoolwork, creating minute-by-minute schedules to get a project done, and being so tired at the end of the day that you forget to put your mouthguard in before you fall asleep. The mouthguard you need because you stress-grind your teeth.

“Thriving” brings images of nailing presentations in high-powered meeting, getting constant recognition and praise from peers and superiors, walking places in high heels without falling down and generally killing it.**

Um, can’t it be both?

I’m constantly drowning in an ocean of grad school. Everything is just at the top edge of my skill level, my brain gets fuzzy because I think so hard and so often and I now need 9-10 hours a sleep a night and 2-5 cups of coffee each morning just to reset. But I’m also doing well in my classes, getting good feedback from my professors, and having positive (and hilarious) interactions with my observation students.

I’m sur-thriving. Yeah, tell your friends, it’s gonna be a thing.

So get out there and have a great day; enjoy the give and take. Catch a train right as you get to the station but twist your ankle on the stairs. Get a project done early only to get assigned more reading. Try to get to bed early and then lay there awake for hours. Go enjoy a complicated, difficult, glorious, amazing life.

Best of luck.

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*I mean it was tumblr, so my reaction was “THIS.” but same thing

**And also 13 going on 30, because obviously

 

Moving Away Part 1: How to Grad School

As I’ve mentioned, I’m headed to grad school this month. No big deal, just casually moving from Seattle to New York City.

About three months in to my two year Peace Corps term I decided to go to grad school when I got home and began obsessing.

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On my weekly trip to the capitol city, I would copy and paste page after page or poorly loaded content from university websites and compile them into guides on my computer. I got pretty into tables of contents. From there I would read through each guide, judging the school’s education program on three excel pages of factors, organized by priority.

After a year and a half, I had a spreadsheet of over 40 schools. I applied for three.

My point is that I had the time to obsess about grad school and systematically evaluate my options before picking the best fit. I then had enough time to take the GRE and apply for schools.

Peace Corps was a blessing that taught me how productive I am without the internet.

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Today I want to share some tips for applying to graduate school, narrowing down the options, and being realistic about your career goals and financial future.

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How Do I Grad School?

  1. Ask yourself why you’re considering the option. Do you need a Master’s degree for your career goals? Do you even want to go right now? Are you considering it because you’re too scared to do something else?giphy1
    There are two reasons to go to grad school: you want it and you need it. This a commitment and it’s going to cost you money, so don’t just do it because you graduated from undergrad and don’t know what else to do now.
    Besides, if you’re not in it for good reasons, answering those interview questions is going to be rough.
  2. Pick your schools. If you’re sure about this, get ready to choose schools. Figure out what kind of program you want, what kind of schools are you interested in attending, how far do you want to go from home, what financial barriers are there? I compiled my list from a mix of the Newsweek Top Schools for my specific field of study and the Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellows list.bad-at-making-decisions-new-girl-gif
  3. Pick your priorities. Decide what your most important factors, the medium importance factors, and the not very important factors are. For me it was a hands-on learning program, certification before graduation, and financial aid opportunities.
    There is no wrong answer here, if money is top of the list, be honest with yourself about that. If it’s a specific kind of curriculum or size of school, ok. But prioritize, because no school is totally perfect, you just have to find the best fit for you.tumblr_mf5n2cx64n1rbrm08o1_500
  4. Research the crap out of it. You know when you start Facebook stalking someone and eventually realized your back to 2009 of their old roommate’s photos? No? Just me? Ok. Well, the point is you should feel like that with your top schools. You should not only know the program your applying for forward and back, but the people in charge of it.5ea018a4c89a54438c7fe4619d353e28
  5. Apply. I truly don’t believe that you should apply for more than about five schools. Application fees stack up fast and the can vary from $30 to $130 (lookin’ at you Stanford) just to apply.
    I picked three programs I loved; one I didn’t think I had a shot in hell at getting in to, one I thought I might be able to realistically get in to, and one I was pretty confident I’d get in to. It’s better to apply for a handfull of varying difficulty then to apply for twenty and be out the money, believe me you can blow through that money later.money-burn

So that’s it, simple. Nothing to it. Then, of course there’s interviews and tests and transcripts and FAFSA and all manner of other educational torture, but hey applying is a pretty big deal.

Best of luck.