For the love of Pete, I want a job

It's job-hunting season again for teachers, and the competition is cut-throat. It's almost impossible to get a job without experience. Yet, as in every industry - how do you get experience? I'm tutoring and subbing, but I don't really know what else to do. I've applied to about 40 CPS schools, a couple of north suburban districts that I can reach via Metra, and the handful of charter schools that I can reach in less than 2 hours on the CTA. Come the end of the school year, I guess I'll start making a nuisance of myself by calling schools and "checking in." Ugh. I hate that - it seems so tacky. But there's no way I can get through another year of subbing - it just doesn't bring in enough money.

I'm also trying to figure out something for the summer, which is more difficult that I imagined. I'm applying for summer camps and nannying, and hoping that something pans out there.

I am TERRIBLE at having the future unplanned. Not knowing what lies ahead, if I'm going to be able to pay my rent in two months, is completely nerve-wracking for me. I'm often two steps from losing my shit. I'd probably feel better if at least one of us in my household had regular pay coming in, but right now I guess it is what it is.

On that subject, Skitch broke his leg a week and a half ago, so that's been fun times. Until the last day or so, he was pretty much unable to get up and move around, so you can guess how my week was spent. He's doing a bit better and able to get around a bit more, which is good for him, but also good for me, too. In early June, he gets to move from a full-leg cast to one that is below the knee, which will make getting around MUCH easier.


Where has the time gone?

I haven't posted in a month and a half. Unbelievable. I think a lot of my journaling energy is being focused either into my 365, or into Facebook status updates. Oh, Facebook.

So, Skitch and I are living together. We moved his stuff in this past weekend, and are now trying to figure out where to put it all. Yes, we've been dating less than four months. But it feels so right, so what else can you do but jump in with both feet. I haven't done that enough in my life.

I'm learning a great deal about myself through this process. For example, I can stand living in my own mess, but not in mine AND someone else's. That I am totally unused to, and a little rattled by, having someone notice or care if I drop a pot in the kitchen, or pee 6 times in a day, or crack up at something on the internet. That I have some weird, deep-seated need to have MY STUFF separate and untouched. That I have difficulty sharing. That I really enjoy cooking when I have someone to eat with. That an afternoon nap snuggled up is about the best thing in the world. After five years of living alone, I have some adjusting to do.


what I can do

Skitch drew this yesterday. It makes me feel gooey.


a busy sea of spinning wheels

So, it's been weeks since I posted. I guess I've been lacking words lately. I've been participating in the Flickr 365 Days Self Portrait Challenge, which has taken up a lot of my creative energy.

I've also been sick, pretty much non-stop, for over a month now. Which, if you know me, is highly unusual. I had a little breakdown last night, when I realized that I've probably been so sick because I've been dealing with this constant low-level of stress due to lack of steady employment. I thought I was dealing with it okay, but I don't think I really am. I know that so many other people are going through the same stress and worry, but that doesn't really make me feel any better. I feel like I have a dozen balls in the air, and dropping any one of them will result in catastrophe.

At this point, I'm working really hard to retrain myself back to the way I lived in 2000/2001, not spending unnecessarily, looking for bargains, reusing what I can. Like so many other Americans, in the past few years I think I had developed a disposable lifestyle, which seriously needs to change.

One of my bright spots is my boyfriend. Because I don't like to use real names here, and I'm tired of using letters, for the sake of the blog I'm calling him Skitch. Our relationship is so weird to me. I guess that fact that we knew each other for years before we started dating makes things different. We settled so quickly into this strong relationship, built on trust and open communication. Because I am an eternal pessimist, part of me keeps thinking that it can't be this easy, but lucky for me he is an optimist and assures me that sometimes, it just is this easy.

My sister is getting married this weekend, so tomorrow Skitch and I are driving down to Ohio for the wedding. I think he is a brave man, meeting my ENTIRE family in one day. I'm going to keep count of how many times we get asked if we're "next" and how many times people comment on how little and cute we are. I think maybe I need to bring a bottle of scotch.


A long post on education

If you don't care about how education is funded, you may want to stop reading now.

My friend's mom, who lives in a small town in northern Ohio, recently sent an angry letter to a local radio talk show host, lambasting him for his on-air statements about the local school levy. As a teacher, it was great to read a letter supporting public education. With her permission, I'm reprinting it here.

Mr. Patrick:

I hold you partially responsible for the defeat of the Northwest School Levy. Thanks to your biased blathering, many voters were convinced that the financial problems in the district could be resolved without additional financing. You gave voice to numerous malcontents who are simply selfish and tone-deaf to the realities of the financial crises faced by many local school districts - not just Northwest. Waiting for the State of Ohio to change the way Ohio schools are funded is not a viable alternative at this point in time for districts like Northwest. And in the meantime, the Northwest schools - which were once rated "Excellent" - will continue to decline.

Furthermore, I resent your audacity in trying to speak to the situation in the Northwest School District according to your own biases, since you don't live here and don't have children in our school system. I do live in the district, have for 35 years and have an adult child who benefited from the excellent education that the Northwest Schools used to be able to offer. I'm appreciative of the fact that there were people who lived in the district at the time my daughter was in school who understood the importance of supporting the schools, whether they still had children in school or not. According to your bio, you and your family live in Hudson. How nice for you that you can live in such a well-funded school district and make your living in part from throwing stones at school districts which have a completely different funding base and are in the sort of financial crises faced by Northwest and others.

For the record, my husband and I are both retired and voted "Yes" for the Northwest levy. It's the least we could do to assure that our community continues to be a great place to raise a family, as it has been since we raised our own family.

I'm a daily listener to most of the programming on WHLO. However, I turn to WNIR when your show is airing. Although I've found your show worthwhile at times, your stand against school districts and school boards - which are just doing their best to find a way to provide a good education with the resources available - has made me decide that, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., my time could be better spent elsewhere.
So hooray! In responding to her email, I made a joke that he was probably the kind of guy who believed in vouchers, to which she told me that SHE believed in vouchers. Which inspired the following rant on the evils of vouchers. Which I will post here, because it is the most organized my thoughts have ever been on the topic.
The reason why I don't believe in vouchers is two-fold.

One, voucher money will never be enough to send poor kids to private schools. The tuition is too high if the parents can't pay part of it. So with vouchers, the middle class will be bleeding money out of the public schools, leaving behind the poor kids in increasingly poor schools that will have more and more difficulty attracting talented teachers.

And two - charter schools and many private schools (except for the exclusive ones) have lower standards for teachers than public schools, and are not subject to the same equality requirements. You do not have to be a certified teacher to teach in a Catholic school or a charter school, and private schools have their own guidelines. And because they are private, these schools can chose the students they want to
accept, so they don't have to accept students with disabilities, or lower IQs - so of course they have higher test scores!

If you have a child with autism or dyslexia, there is no law the requires the private schools to provide services to your child, which the ADA and IDEA acts require of public schools - and most of them don't provide them. The public school I've been working at provides aides for students with Down's Syndrome or other excessive learning
disabilities, all at no cost to the parents. Deaf students get special classes, and interpreters. Students with speech or physical problems get therapy. Students with behavioral problems or minor learning disabilities have special programs designed by counselors, therapists, teachers and parents to meet their needs. You won't find any of that in your typical private school. And what do vouchers do? Kids who
don't need those services bleed out the voucher money, and go to private schools, and kids who can't get into private schools, or who can't get the services they need at them, get left behind in schools that can no longer find the money to help them. So, of course public schools are going to have lower test scores - they are required by law to accept all students.

On top of that - private schools have to meet a basic set of standards, but they can teach any ideology they want. With vouchers,state and federal money is going to support those schools - such as religious schools that teach that evolution isn't real, or white supremacists schools that teach that black people are inferior. (Both
of which actually exist)

Vouchers sound great in theory, but in reality, they will destroy a fundamental part of the American promise - to provide an equal education to all.


the job front

I haven't been working very much the past few weeks, which has been kind of stressful. At first, it was my own fault, then it wasn't anymore. Thankfully, the tutoring has been plentiful, which will keep me afloat, but the subbing has been scarce. It's been a combination of factors, including the really bad weather making me not want to go out, and then the end of the quarter meaning that teachers weren't taking any days off last week. The fact that two days a week, I have a limited number of schools I can work at, due to an after school tutoring job, hasn't helped.

Yesterday, I had a terrible head cold and felt like death on a Triscuit. Of course I got a call. Today, feeling at least mobile - no calls. So, I've learned my lesson about gift horses. When someone calls, go to work, even if it is -10 degrees outside or you're sneezing constantly. Or the karma police will get you.

I'm not overly worried yet. The tutoring job (which I kept because it's big money), is over this week, so starting next week I don't have to be limited in where I can work some days, which will be good. That means I can call around to a bunch of different schools and hopefully find some steady work.

So, today is "update resume" day, and "do laundry" day and "wash dishes" day.



President Obama. That sounds really good. Yesterday as I watched the post-oath events, I got a little tickle in the stomach every time I heard the Wolf Blitzer say "The President" or "President Obama." That tickle is a nice replacement for the tense sensation I got whenever I heard the word "President" over the last 6 or so years.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these people who thinks things are magically going to change over night. It's just nice to have a person I can respect living at 1600 Penn.


365 Days of Me

I wanted to do the 365 Days Project on Flickr this year, but of course I forgot to start it on the first of January. If you aren't familiar with the 365 Project, it's pretty simple - take a self portrait every day for a year. Many people either start on the first of the year, or on their birthday or some other important day. I had initially planned to start on my first day as a teacher in my own classroom, but that hasn't happened yet, so I had planned to do it for 2009. But since I forgot that, I decided to start today, on the day of Obama's inauguration, which was a thrilling day for me.

So if you're into the 365 Project, you can watch my set develop at 365 Days 2009 - Obama Year 1.



I'm sitting here this morning with actual free time. I'm all dressed up and ready to go, waiting to see if I get a sub call, and kind of hoping that I can just go back to bed.

The last three weeks have been an exhausting roller coaster ride, but I was at a point where there was so much happening, that putting it into words seemed overwhelming. I resolve to blog more regularly here in 09. So the highlights, to get caught up.

The end of Soiree DADA came and went, in the blur that often accompanies the closing of a beloved show. I put together a photo set of some of my favorite pictures from the show, from several people. I truly loved this show - it was amazing to be a part of. But even if I hadn't, it would still always hold a fond place in my memory as the background to a new and exciting chapter in my life. Since I am doing this chronologically, that new and exciting chapter will receive more detail momentarily.

The day after DADA I flew home (I could have driven in less time than I spent in the airport). My sister's wedding and pregnancy are progressing. I resolve to be better about checking in with her, as I am terrible at keeping in touch. But this is such an important time in her life, and I do care and want to talk to her. I'm just forgetful. As much as I'd love to see my sister more, the 8 days in Ohio pretty much cured me of my desire to move back there.

Then came New Year's Eve. The night that the new and exciting chapter in my life that began brewing during the DADA show came to a full boil. That metaphor makes little sense, I realize, but I'm feeling to lazy to fix it. Anyway, I had a NYE date with someone who turned out to be as fascinating and hilarious and delightful as I suspected. And now I have a relationship with someone who is fascinating and hilarious and delightful. We are still in the first blush, and I'm pretty sure that if I was anyone else, I'd find us incredibly annoying. We are totally ga-ga over each other. It's truly disgusting, so I apologize in advance to all our friends. I suspect the newness will wear off soon, and we'll rein it in. But I can't remember being this happy, letting go enough to be this happy, in a long time.


the master!

I forgot to mention this - I officially have my master's degree. I'm waiting for the actual diploma to arrive, but according to my transcript, I am now a "Master of Education." BOW TO ME!

I'm not planning to attend the ceremony or anything, so this is the official announcement. Whoopie!