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)

A Dream Housewarming

You know what time it is? Almost that lovely time of year when, what I’m told is the largest number of New Yorkers for the year, will spend an insanely stressful 2-4 weeks sending countless emails and dialing countless strangers in order to find an apartment. It’s brutal, it’s dumb, and it’s the biggest sh*tshow I’ve ever seen, but hopefully this will be our last.

As a coping mechanism, I’ve been gathering a collection of my favorite housewares to help me think ahead to the fun part of moving in: decorating.

Here are some of my favorites*.

Art

Jurassic Bloom Print //// Let’s Go Print //// Mountain Mist Print

 

Kitchen

Cuisinart Immersion Blender //// Bamboo Dish Rack //// Metal Trivet //// Granite Top Cart

OXO Salad Spinner //// Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker

 

Dining

Arkita Flatware Set //// Imana Stoneware Set ///// Copper Wine Rack //// Porcelain Mugs

 

Adorable Decor (Adecorable…?)

Hexagonal Planters //// Modern Throw Pillow //// Wall Planter Set //// Jewelry Stand

 

* These are all conveniently located in my *cough* Amazon wishlist *cough*

A Dream Housewarming

The (Late) 2017 Bucket List

At the beginning of college I got my first credit card. Don’t worry, I’ve always been ridiculously responsible about budgeting, this story’s not going down that road. What I recall almost as deeply as the nightmares I had about the possibility of interest payments, is getting my first statement.

It wasn’t that I’d spent a lot of money, it’s that every line item on the statement was a fast food restaurant or something I ordered from the internet. My credit card statement was a story of me as a shut-in. It was not an untrue story.

I wish I could say I saw this sad story and immediately changed; went full Eat, Pray, Love and traveled the world, sky dived and moved to a new city, danced like no one was watching. I did none of those things, because isn’t life lived in the small changes and the tiny moments?

Yes, it is.

So I went to a few more stand up shows and plays, I made my meals out into dates with friends, and I traded a few pretty dresses for road trips and ridiculous midnight adventures. I learned to get back into the world and be a bit more brave and a bit less tied to things.

When I heard about Eventbrite‘s GOMO, or Get Out More Often, I thought “that sounds pretty baller.” And then I thought “damn, son, you need to stop picking up slang from your students.”

In all seriousness though, there’s a huge life lesson here and you know how I love those. So in the spirit of GOMO! (something I will be yelling randomly all over NYC’s subways), here’s a list of 10 adventures I’d like to have this year.

*I’m putting a couple on here I already did, because, well, I want to brag a little too*

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1. Go To the Oscars

I did this. So…

2.  See a Play

I hadn’t totally planned on it, but I did this today too. Casually went to see Hamilton with my students. More on that later.

3. Get Out of Town

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New York is draining, which is surprising since I’ve yet to live in a New York apartment with decent sink and shower drains. In our year plus here, Boyfriend and I have only left the city a hand full of times, mostly to fly home or get out for a weekend camping trip. This year I really want to go somewhere quiet, stay in a B&B and relax for real. I want to be not just New York relaxed, but actually relaxed.

4. Have a Picnic

It doesn’t have to be in Central Park or Prospect Park or any park. I just want to make sandwiches and pack them to green, nature area and eat them in the company of those I love.

5. Go Camping

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This tends to happen a few times during the summer but it’s something that I really like and Boyfriend LOVES. Nature is the great healer and no matter how hot/humid/disgusting this summer is, we have to get out there.

6. Write a Story

I’m keeping expectations low because I won’t even finish grad school until August. So, not a novel, nothing epic, just a story. I have ideas in my head all the time and I used to do a lot more writing them. Time to get back to that.

7. Do a Yoga Retreat

Yoga brings me as much peace as nature does and I’ve been wanting to try one of these for a long time. This year I want to bite the bullet and go all in for a weekend (or maybe a week).

8. Take the Train

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Not the subway. Dear god, never the subway. The actual train. I don’t even really care where I go, I just want to go. On the train.

9. Be Present in the Blogging Community

I have made a few great blogging friends and interacted with other bloggers and I genuinely love this community so much. Grad school and teaching tend to keep me from both blogging (whoops) and making deeper connections with other bloggers (double whoops). This year I want to get back to the blog and jump in to the community.

10. Get a Tattoo with Boyfriend

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I should note: I definitely don’t mean matching tattoos. I truly believe though that it’s an experience worth having with someone you love and Boyfriend has not yet gotten a tattoo. I’m working on designing one for him and as for me, who know, could turn out as anything.

Best of luck.

P.S. Eventbrite also has some crazy cool planning tools, like this one. Check them out!

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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4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving to NYC

1. The Subway is Hell

You know that movie scene where the quirky girl is riding the subway and writing in her journal about her quirky thoughts? She looks up and there’s a handsome stranger peering back at her. He smiles. She smiles.

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Riding the subway every day is exactly like that except replace “writing in her journal” with “struggling to stand while the car sways and the man behind her pushes his briefcase into her leg.” Oh and the handsome stranger is an old woman yelling at the ceiling that the A train used to run all the way to Jersey City. Oh and there are no smiles.

2. Renting an Apartment is Hell

No, I don’t mean it’s hard or time-consuming, I mean it’s actual hell.

Because I moved to New York with Boyfriend, the option of subletting or renting a room wasn’t really on the table for us. So, I started looking for studios about 3 months out from our move date. I was quickly informed that this was too early and listings are only up about 30 days before renting. Cool, cue anxiety spike.

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At about 6 weeks I found a listing on the Columbia Off Campus Housing site for students and met an awesome agent who took the time to explain the process. Here are some important pieces to renting basically any property in NYC:

– Your income must be 40x the rent annually – so if you want to rent a $1500 studio, you will need to make a minimum of 60k/year, for a $2000 place, you’ll need 80k/year. If you are really lucky, a rental company might accept 35x the rent, especially if you have good credit, but if not you’ll need a guarantor…

– A guarantor is a co-signer for the lease, this can be a family member or friend, but be warned, they must make 80x the rent ($1500 apartment = 120k/year). If you don’t have a loaded friend, there are many companies that will co-sign for you in exchange for a fee, which is typically one month’s rent.

– If a broker is showing you the apartment, that’ll be another fee which fluctuates between 1-2 months rent.

– If you meet all of these requirements and are approved before the apartment is rented to someone else, congratulations! Now quick pay a deposit, 1-2 months rent, renters insurance (in many buildings) and you’re in! Welcome to you 300 square foot apartment that costs 4x what it would have in the city you moved from

3. Taxes are Hell

I moved from a state where I could calculate the amount of money that would be taken out of my paycheck at about 10%. New York scoffs at that amount, New York giggles, New York promptly quadruples that amount and then asks how you’re going to make rent.

Granted I make more money than I used to, but my first paycheck was a bit of a surprise. Turns out, making 51k means I pay 38% of my income to the feds, state, and city. Cool.

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I know there is a system that involved brackets and varying percentages, but I don’t know exactly how it works. Best I can tell, New York just adds up the amount of joy it’s sucked from you that month and charges the same percentage in taxes.

4. Getting Out of the City is Hell

Ok, once you’re out of the city it’s awesome, but the actual act of leaving is a pain, especially during the holidays.

For Thanksgiving, Boyfriend and I went to Virginia to visit my family and looked at just about every possible way to get there. Flying was $800-$900, the train was $500-600, renting a car was a minimum of $600 plus gas. Finally we settled on a 12-hour overnight bus and it still ran us over $350.

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I won’t even talk about trying to fly back to the best coast for Christmas…cough $900 cough.

Granted these are long distance trips and we could get out a bit more locally, however then there’s the cost of travel, lodging and food. Day trips are rough if you don’t have a car and getting anywhere by subway/train/bus takes forever.

What I’m saying is, if you live here, you’ll want to get out once in a while and you will not succeed most of the time.

Alright so maybe it’s not that bad and NYC has some pretty beautiful and great bits too. But, be warned, it will try to get to you. Like a loud little brother, NYC will always be there yelling in your ear when you just want some space.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from you with any comments or questions!

Best of luck.

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Adoption Story: Becoming a Cat Lady

A few weeks ago fate showed up and she gave me a cat. Sitting in the teacher’s lounge after school one day, I overheard a teacher, Bryn, ask our principal if she was interested in adopting another cat. The second the principal replied that she had too many already, I chimed in, “a cat, you say?”

Bryn and her wife had found this adorable cat one day when they were locked out of their apartment. Bryn’s wife plastered the neighborhood with “found cat” posters and asked around for weeks with no luck. Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for pets to get left behind in this city when owners move away.

So they sheltered him in their back yard, but it was getting cold and Bryn was worried. With three cats of their own and a baby on the way, he wasn’t going to find a long term home with them. Until that day in the teacher’s lounge.

We quickly set up a time for Boyfriend and I to meet the cat and Bryn assured me there was absolutely no pressure. We spent about 15 minutes marveling at this personable, friendly, and calm cat. The entire visit, these two huge huskies barked at us from next door, but the cat was no more than mildly perturbed.


Boyfriend and I said we’d talk about it and set out on the two mile walk home. Five minutes in, after discussing the details, he turned me and said “but we’re adopting this cat, right?”

So, we did.


We named him Oscar, for his weeks spent living in a sidelong trash can in Bryn’s backyard. He’s lived with us for about two weeks now and I am totally in love. He chirps and purrs. He sits on command before receiving food. He loves cuddles and people and food, he really loves food.


He’s probably the best cat ever. Oscar, the wonder-cat.


Best of luck.

 

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