By Corinne Flax
JuLY 25, 2006
Math Is A Hoot
I have to leave for class in 45 minutes if I want to get there on time. Less then an hour ago I was at Starbucks running around changing trashes, filling pitchers with drink mix, counting rolls of coins, and trying to get to know the new partners we just hired. Forty minutes ago I was on a train attempting to read the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) kindergarten-second grade standards. Now Iím sitting at my desk trying to understand why I feel the need to pile every single piece of paper together directly on the only chair in my room. (Actually Iíve taken the papers off and put them on my bed so I could sit down and write this blog).
This is the last week of summer classes, and Iím fairly sure that if theyíd lasted any longer I wouldnít have made it out alive. That being said, I am going to miss the hectic life style Iíve grown so accustomed to. Sure itís crazy, but then so am I! Plus Iíve enjoyed my summer classes so much! Literature and mathematics, two things that it often seems school is based around. That does give short shrift to history, science, music, art, physical education, and foreign language: but then whoís paying attention to that stuff anyway?
This math class Iím taking right now is a hoot. Our professor is constantly adding things onto the syllabus and then forgetting about them. We spend each class puzzling over mathematical problems that we answer through manipulatives, like blocks and paper clips, and every day at break I get chocolate to share with my table. Needless to say Iím doing a good job making friends. Of course they say they like me for me, but Iím pretty sure itís the Ritter Sport bars I bring to class.
Truthfully though Iíve been feeling really good about this class. The professor really seems to like me and gave me a big compliment on the last paper I handed in for him. Of course the one after that I spent about 15 minutes writing so weíll see how his estimation of my worth is devalued based on the sub-par quality heís about to encounter. All these Bank Street classes have you write journal entries about your experiences throughout the course of the class. And these journals are a lot like this blog except with references to different articles that Iíve read. I find that the blog has turned out to be exceptionally good practice for graduate school.
Tomorrow night Leah and I are going to go picnic in Central Park near the Summer Stage. Fiona Apple is playing and we want to listen to her. Hopefully it wonít rain and weíll be able to picnic in style while enjoying free tunes by a musician we both love. If it does rain weíll just eat the picnic at home. Iím going to be getting most of it at Fairway tomorrow, so weíre both pretty excited. Fairway, for those who are wondering, is an excellent grocery store. I believe thereís one on 72nd street, one on the Upper Westside somewhere, and one in Redhook. Iím gonna buy white peaches!
JuLY 6, 2006
Recovering From Saying Goodbye
This morning I woke up at 7:00am to get a passport picture taken at CVS. I should have gotten it last week when I wouldn’t have had to wake up at 7:00am, but procrastination is one of those things I’ve always enjoyed. To explain further: I took the NYC food management handling class last week, and this morning I took the test. I passed, which is a relief because if I’d failed I’d have felt like a moron, and in two to three weeks they will send my certification to the store I work at. This store, by the way, is located in Chelsea on 16th and 8th, if anyone who reads this wants to see where the magic happens. The reason I needed the passport photos was so that they could affix one of them onto the certificate, so people know it is I, Corinne Flax, who has passed the food handling class.
Other things of note that have been going on are the removal of my best friend TT to Bosnia, and her moving into my apartment for the week or so before she moves. I can’t believe she is leaving me, leaving NYC, leaving the US. We had her going away party last week, which may sound odd, but was actually a very well reasoned choice. Essentially half of everyone she knows is away right now, taking a long holiday for the fourth, so it made sense to have the party before they all left. It also made sense to have the party on my roof because that way tons of people could come, and it could be a roof party. I do love a good party.
The party was really fun, although I feel like I’m still recovering from it, but then I’ve felt like I was still recovering from something for two or three weeks now, either a friend’s visit, my mother’s staying with us, or just lots of late nights. It seems as if either because of the Fourth or because of the World Cup, or because of TT leaving, the weekend has really never ended. Every night TT tries and convinces me to come out and drink, and it is so hard to say no! Luckily I have a good motivation to say no: today is the first day of my Math Preparation for Teacher’s course. I can’t very well think about how to best explain multiple digit subtraction and go to happy hour, can I?
Of course I wish I could.
TT and I have been friends since my first day at Drew. We lived on the same hall and just got along instantly. From her I’ve learned a lot about what it means to really be friends with someone. I’ve had more fun with her then with anyone else, and I feel like I can be more myslef with her then with anyone else. Also I’ve never fought with anyone the way I’ve fought with her, never been as angry with anyone as I’ve been with her, never really cared about anyone in quite the same way. After college she moved to Brooklyn and she’s been in NYC ever since. The thought of my living here without her to support me is difficult at best, and seems impossible at worst. Of course she’s the one moving to Bosnia so she’s the one who’s got the most to handle.
This weekend a few other friends from Drew are coming down and staying with us to say goodbye. Maybe after she leaves my life will be quieter, more predictable, maybe even easier. But is that what I really want? I think not.
June 26, 2006
Sure Do Like My Bike
I wanted to get up today and jump on my bike. We (the bike and myself), were going to ride like hell over to Bank Street, and I was going to spend the morning in deep contemplation of banned books. While I’m still going to be doing some banned book contemplation I’m not sure about the whole bike thing. It’s raining...again. Interspersed between days of heat and scorching sun there seems to have been a whole lot of precipitation this June. I’d be sadder but I’m hoping the rain lets up in a little and I’m still able to jump onto the Fuji.
The Fuji is my love. The Fuji is my life. The Fuji is one of the ugliest bikes I’ve ever seen, it’s black with neon angular designs on its frame. There’s rust on the gears, the kick stand gets stuck up half the time, and I bought the thing at Bikes By George in the East Village. I don’t know if I’ve really talked about the bike that much in this here blog, so I figure given its position of great importance in my life it deserves a whole 500 words or so dedicated to its awesomeness.
Having a bike in NYC means that you can move faster then you could on foot, but that’s not really the attraction for me, or at least not the main one. A bike puts you in this other world from walking or driving. On foot you are in the thick of it with your fellow man. People try to sell things to you or get you to give up your change. You’ve got to keep an eye out for dog feces. Since I’ve sold my car the only rides I’m getting are from cabbies and the occasional friend who’s driven in to visit. Cabbies you have to pay, friends don’t visit just to take me to class, buses I don’t understand yet, and subways are wonderful but not particularly scenic.
So this leaves us with bikes. Bikes let you flit in and out of traffic, onto sidewalks and into bike lanes. You can go when the lights are green or red, depending on traffic patterns. When you’re going up a hill you feel like a champion, standing up and pressing down hard, pushing yourself to get where you’re going. Going down hill you feel like you’re flying as pedestrians blur as you zoom by. Avoiding obstacles like buses and maneuvering around cabs and other cars makes me feel like quicksilver. Also there’s the way my heart rate increases and adrenaline levels peak as I find myself narrowly avoiding collisions that would end in damage to both my person and my fragile self confidence on the bike.
There are bike trails running all through Central Park which is a scant 16 blocks away from my apartment. I haven’t ridden down the bike path by the Hudson yet, or the East River, and have not actually taken my bike farther south then 84th street, but I know that I will soon enough. I just have to find some biking buddies to roll around with. Or I could remain a lone biker, pedaling my way through the city in my own private world.
June 23, 2006
Thursday afternoon, and I still havenít gotten over last weekend. Through a combination of various events my life has become one big night on the town, or at least thatís what it feels like. I donít think Iíve been home before 9:30 in three or four weeks, and thatís on nights when I go straight home after class. Iím either in class, at work, or (like I said before), out on the town. Gone are those quiet dinners with my sister where we chatted about our days and fell asleep afterwards watching movies on the futon.
Not that Iím complaining, or at least not that much, Iím just really tired this week. I think itís at least partially because of the heat. The city seems to emit a constant pulse of bone melting humidity. At night its great being outside in New York at night, even if itís just walking to the subway after closing down Sbux. It feels like youíre swimming through the air, thatís how humid it is. Even better then getting off work at 12:30 and walking through the drunks are the city roof parties. Being on a roof and watching as the sky begins to light up with sunrise over the buildings is one of the most pleasant feelings I know.
Gab came down this past weekend to see TT before she leaves. My friend TT is moving to Eastern Europe (sheíll be traveling through various former soviet union countries before settling down in Bosnia), in a few weeks and every time we get together thereís a sweetness that can only be described as nostalgia. Interspersed between these nights on roofs, these nights at Sbux, and these nights walking home from class are days. Days currently filled with reading childrenís books and essays about childrenís books.
My literature class is so intense. These books are very emotionally gripping to me. Thereís a simplicity to the morals in these stories that moves me in a way that nothing Iíve read recently for adults has been able to. ďRoll of Thunder Hear My CryĒ, ďLeonís StoryĒ, ďThe Gift GiverĒ, ďThe GiverĒ, ďStop Pretending (what happened when my sister went crazy)Ē, all these childrenís books had me crying as I read them in the library or on the train. In class we debate how these books would best be taught to children based on their developmental levels.
When something feels so raw when I read it makes me sad to sit there in class and pick it to death. At first I liked this class a lot, and I still feel like Iím learning to think long and hard about the hows and whys of choosing books for a classroom, but itís getting tedious. Graduate students appear to be no better then undergrads at actually listening to one another before making comments. We donít so much have debates as we have a series of monologues. I wish that wasnít the case but thatís it.
Plus, and this is sort of interesting, I seriously upset my teacher a few nights ago. I suggested a book we were reading, ďCircuitĒ a semi-autobiographical novel about a child growing up on the Californian migrant worker circuit could be taught in chunks. The book is a made up of 16 short stories and I suggested that for younger children you might want to only have them read five or six of the stories. Judy (my teacher), said ďWhat you are saying is that you would take what an artist has made, art, and chop it up. Would you take a painting and cut it into slices so that someone could understand it better?Ē She looked so horrified at my suggestion that I didnít say anything, just looked at her blankly, trying to figure out what had happened in her past to make her react so strongly.
June 12, 2006
So here's what's up right now: I just went to H&M and bought several things I will be returning this weekend. I did it for therapeutic reasons, as well as a personal need for more jeans and shorts/capri pants to get me through the summer. The personal need for clothing needs no explanation I am sure, but the therapy, well that's what I'm here to write about today.
I have received my first school assignment for next fall. I am going to be working in a combined fourth and fifth grade classroom at the New School in the Bronx. I will work in the classroom three days a week as an assistant teacher while simultaneously observing and recording one particular child of my choice for school. Truth be told I'm pretty thrilled to be heading towards the classroom, it's about time I figured out what all my books are talking about. Today I was supposed to meet with the principal of the school to go on a tour, meet my co-teacher and just sort of get used to the whole idea.
The New School is on the last stop on the B line in the Bronx. This makes it about 45 minutes away from my house. I made sure I got a nice early start and headed out the door around 10:30 this morning. It did occur to me to call and ensure that my appointment was still happening but I figured that they would call me if there were any problems (this is foreshadowing).
I got to the Bronx without any problems, asked a nice Jamaican man where Jerome St. was, and started walking to school. The neighborhood is extremely industrial, and the school itself is inside an old cracker factory. Over head the B&D lines run on the Grand Concourse rail lines, and there are tons of old abandoned factories and livery services all around. There's a large housing project and an MTA train cleaning depot right next to the school. The school is a red brick building that's located on the corner, and has that cool slice of pie/corner shape that you find sometimes in NYC. I loved it as soon as I saw it. The good vibe feeling I was having continued as I waded through brightly dressed children who were lining up to go on a field trip. The doors to the school are covered in murals and everyone seemed pleased and happy to be there. I checked in with the security guard and walked to the office.
At the office an unsmiling secretary told me that the principal had been called away by an emergency. She did not apologize or in any way indicate that perhaps this was an inconvenience to me. I asked if I could reschedule right then and there, and she said no, I had better call back on Tuesday. That was it. I just turned around and left. The friendly security guard asked "Leaving so soon?" and I managed some sort of civil remark. All the while my head was screaming at me to get out of there fast, because eventually I'll be working with these people and if I had expressed how aggravated I felt they would probably think I was psychotic.
So I wasted about two hours going to the Bronx today, and when I got back I wasted another one shopping at H&M. But hey, it made me feel better and now I can calmly sit down and finish annotating the book I read for Literature class. Tomorrow I'll reschedule my appointment and the world will go on turning. If that secretary had only said she was sorry I'd have felt a lot better. Three cheers for politeness!
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