Friday, January 30, 2009
Next, I had a damn good day. It went as follows:
Woke up after I hit the snooze 4 times (that’s 20 minutes folks!) and guess what, I don’t feel guilty about it. Went down to the corner dungeon, the place where I pick up (steal) internet from the local community center. About 50% of the time there is a young girls’ ballet class in session directly on the other side of the door. Usually lead by a French woman (though I suspect that her accent is false in an attempt to seem like a more credible ballet instructor). Anyways, Colin and I being the well organized, never procrastinating, on top of their game, new teachers decided it would be a good idea to make our hostel reservations for London the day before we left. Great decision guys. Most places were all booked up, those that weren’t were far out of my price range. My superior google-ing skills lead me to find a relatively normal hostel very near the British Museum, which is something we wanted to see on this trip to London specifically. As a bonus, it was only 11 GBP each!
Good start to the day. I shower, eat a banana, and I’m off to class. I submit a request for next week’s morning announcements to thank the staff at LMS for being so warm and welcoming (partly to gain some brownie points, but mostly because they truly have been wonderful!). What’s this? A free breakfast from the PTO? Oh you shouldn’t have, well I don’t mind if I do! A breakfast bacon and egg quiche here, a blueberry bagel there and I make my way up to the health class. Today we talk about peer pressure and then lead it into an interactive website about media influence on adolescence. Perfect timing to talk about super bowl commercials. I got to play around with the smart board too! So cool!
In my afternoon Health class I embarrassingly found out that two 8th grade girls had switched into the class, 4 days late, because of the young new student teacher. Ew.
Time for 7th grade outdoor education/PE. We spent most of the class playing chicken baseball, Giants, Wizards, and Elves, and Monarchy. I participated in all games and was swept back in time to my 7th grade PE class….except I am not as chubby this time. It was really fun to be out there playing with the kids.
After school I am lead to my…
Rose of the Day: I got to drive! That’s right, on the wrong side of the road! I drove my cooperating teachers van (dodge, automatic) 30 minutes away to the sweet town of Bury Saint Edmunds. It was my first test at tackling the challenging obstacles that the English roads throw at the everyday driver. Narrow roads (I mean Narrow!), roundabouts, constantly varying speeds, mini roundabouts (that’s multiple roundabouts strung together, forming an almost double helix of confusion), no curbs or clearance on the side of the road, lots of potholes, CRAZY English drivers, poorly marked exits and signs, and constantly varying speeds. I may have turned on the windshield wipers a couple of times in an attempt to use my turning signal, but I made it. Now for the real test. Car swap. We picked up the car that my cooperating teacher is letting Colin and I use at his house in Bury St. Edmunds, a mid 90’s Ford Escort (Manual!!! Yikes!). This time, on the 30 minute drive back to the base, I did not have my cooperating teacher giving me prompt and accurate directions on where to go, I had Colin, who has the sense of direction of a blind Tasmanian devil (assuming that Tasmanian devils really do get from point A to point B by spinning furiously) and has the conversation skills of a 12 year old girl on crack. No offense Colin. So while I am juggling shifting, using the appropriate signal, reminding myself to stay on the left, trying to figure out how to get back home, which round about ext to take, making sure I’m not going to run the car off the road, and keeping a casual conversation with Colin going, I manage to navigate the vessel back home safe and sound. It was a tremendous success. And really fun.
After we returned, I at a ham and cheese sandwich and finished watching National Treasure. Shut up, I know it’s a corny action movie, but I enjoyed it. Which leads me to my…
Thorn of the day: I am spending my Friday night typing a blog, sipping on a Miller Lite, and most likely going to bed early.
Its okay though. I am not complaining too much. We are going to wake up early, drive 1.5 hours to the town of Epping. Epping is the last stop on the tube, so we will catch the tube there and cruise into downtown London, hopefully before 11 am. We will have all day tomorrow (sat) and most of the day Sunday to bum around one of the most interesting cities in the world! I am really excited. Expect photos by Sunday night!
Musical Artist of the Week: (yes I am stealing this idea from my brother) M. Ward. and his album “Post-War”. I have listened to him in the past, but never as much as I am now. When I hear “Chinese Translation” it takes me back to this summer. My brother Kale was visiting Pullman. We would go out every night, either to a bar or a house party, converse, dance, sing, and meet people. I can specifically remember going down into the empty grain silo and hearing Simon Cornelius (yes that is his real name) play this song, “Chinese translation” with a voice that is uncannily similar to M. Ward’s. It was a great summer, but more importantly this album has made me write poems/songs in my journal. The last time that I wrote anything like it was when I was in Chile. It feels good. I hope to do it more. Anyways, M. Ward is coming out with a new album very soon, and I will be buying it shortly on iTunes.
Random Confession of the day: I cannot stand human mouth sounds. I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. I am not talking about an inappropriate burp, or even a relieving sneeze. You know when someone is really getting into whatever it is that they are eating, and their lips are smacking, you hear the physiological start of their digestive process in their saliva breaking down the food solid. They then loudly swallow the doughnut, or sandwich, or whatever and make a moaning or grunting sound. Do you notice these things? I do. Let me give you another example. When a person, stuffed nose or not, sniffles intensely. I shouldn't say sniffles. It is more like a reaching to scrape the depths of their lungs for any mucus possible, creating a very heavy, muffled, wet sound coming from the cavernous region of the neck. THAT is what I cannot stand. Also I should not be able to hear how dry your mouth is with every time your speak. I do not need to hear you subtly try to cover up your burp, only to leave my breathing air tainted with your sausage lunch. I do not mean to be negative, and I hope that no one is scared to eat in front of me now, but I have always internalized these thoughts and mainly felt guilty for having them. I feel much better letting you all know what is happening inside my weird little head.
I hope you all are well. Be happy!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
New beer of the day: The Morland “Hen’s Tooth” English Ale. 6.5% alc./vol. This bottle conditioned English ale was pretty nasty. It tasted like a 40 of Mickey’s Ice with the skunkiness of an expired corona mixed in. Not good. It is a local beer from Bury St. Edmunds, so I really want to like it. I blame the skunkiness on the clear bottle and the fact that it has probably been on the shelf of the shopette that I bought it from for months. Fear not Hen’s Tooth, I will try you again.
Random Viewing: The NBC original series “Revelations.” The DVD was left in a DVD player that some of the staff from my school lent me. It was the only DVD I had to play, so I gave it a shot….I am ashamed to say that I really like it. It is a series about the book of revelations coming true and the savior is a skeptical Astrophysicist turned believer when his deceased daughter begins to contact him through a brain dead hospital patient. It sounds horrible, I know, but it is done well…I think. Maybe I am just really starved for entertainment. The worst part about it is that I only have the first disc.
Rose of the day: I talked to the home economics teacher at my school, Margaret (a peach of a woman), and she is going to let me use the Home Ec. washer and dryer for my dirty clothes!
Thorn of the day: I have to wake up early tomorrow and attend a 3 hour driver’s education course followed by an exam to receive my English driver’s license :(
Random Question: How many licks, really, does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop? Because we all know that 3 shit is just an impatient cop-out. That damn owl or turtle or whatever it was in that commercial ruined that question for us all. Also what constitutes the center of a tootsie pop? Is it when you first break through the hard candy surface and reach the delicious tootsie roll center? Or does the hard candy essence have to be completely eliminated before the center is considered “attained”? Or is it when the entire tootsie pop, roll included, are gone. Is the deteriorating paper stick really the center of the pop? These are the things I wonder folks.
Random Answer: You know the question, “how much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” I think the answer is:
He would cut a chord of cornucopia, if you gave him a quarter for every chord of cornucopia he cut….or at least that was Wilson’s answer from Tool Time.
Have you ever had a dream about someone…like someone really random and wondered if they too had a random dream about you at the same time? And then not said anything to that person because you fear they might think it was odd that you were dreaming about them? Well here is a homework assignment reader(s): the next time that happens, tell the person! The worst that can happen is they say “man, that is random” and the gain could be a discovery of an underlying fiber to the dreamworld that connects us all. Haha. I am expecting full reports people. I guess I brought that up because for some reason I feel odd dreaming at a different time from everyone that I know and love. I sleep, while you are all awake. And you, my friends, are sleeping while I am awake. Isn’t it odd that we won’t have the opportunity to meet up in dreamland?
Sorry, this was a completely random post.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Though brief, it was great to finally talk to my mom and dad on skype. I had to cut the conversation a little short to attend the retirement of 3 teachers at my school. I do not know any of the retiree’s well, but one of them stood out to me last night. I’ll call him Mr. B. As they showed a slideshow of his teaching experiences over his 46 years of teaching (46 years!!!!), I began to understand a fraction of his impact. He has been teaching for the Department of Defense overseas for 44 of those years. Many of his colleagues got up and talked about Mr. B and how he not only impacted his students, but also how he had influenced them personally. I know that it was a retirement party and everything is supposed to be feel good and all, but it genuinely seemed like he would be leaving a huge hole in the hearts of everyone at LMS.
As fate would have it, his son is in town for about a week and was looking to go out last night after the party. Colin and I just happened to be so willing to accompany the guyJ. So we go out and have some drinks and experience the stimulating club life that is an “on-base club”= lots of guys with shaved heads oogling over the two women in the place (who are probably married anyways). It was a good time none the less.
This morning I woke up in the billeting that Mr. B and his son were staying in across the street. Mr. B took his son home and was then going to return Colin and me to our dorm on RAF Feltwell. Little did I know I was about to be inspired. Mr. B took Colin and me to a breakfast buffet before taking us home. We got the chance to soak up this wonderful man’s personality for about 2 hours over breakfast and coffee. I do not think that Colin was as affected by this man as I was, but I was truly captivated. He is one of the good ol boys. The type of man, the type of generation that is now getting quite old and being overtaken by their more tech-savvy grandchildren. The type of man who is content to shoot the breeze all day with old (or new) friends over coffee. Perhaps I was so intrigued by him because of his laugh. He laughs like my grandpa Wicks used to. The type of laugh that gets increasingly high pitched and usually creeps in before he can even finish his sentence. This man speaks from his heart, and you can tell. He looks you in the eye, has great things to say, talks about the positive things in life, and makes you feel like he is always letting you in on a little secret. You can tell he has been through a lot in life by the wrinkles on his face. He gave me more advice on teaching, scratch that, more advice on life than I could have expected in a 2 hour conversation. I cannot think of a better opportunity for a new teacher, the day before he starts his student teaching, than to sit down and have a nice breakfast with a man of over 45 years in the system. I hope that I could grow to have half the impact and be half the person of this individual. Thank you Mr. B, enjoy your retirement.
After breakfast Colin’s cooperating teacher took us to a nearby town called Ely (pronounced eel-e). It is a great small city that is very representative of this part of England. Old brick buildings with moss growing all over them, a brown river running directly through the middle of town, quaint little restaurants and pubs, and an enormous cathedral. The Ely Cathedral is over 900 years old. I tried to take pictures, but the clouds of the day cut off any light coming through the stained glass. It was by far the largest Cathedral I have been in (at least larger than any of the one’s that I went to in South America). It was a great afternoon.
Anyway, tomorrow is my first day of student teaching! Aren’t you excited for me? I think I will be doing mostly observing this week, but I am really excited. I can’t wait to make the class my own and put some of my expensive education to work! Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Hello Halbury Readers! I see that 11 of you visited yesterday. That is a great confidence builder, even though I am sure 9 of them were my mom checking multiple times to see if there are any updates from her baby boy.
Good news! There is a community center in the same building that I am living in and it has a computer lab. Although I cannot pick up the wireless from my room, if I lean up against the doorway near the lab, I pick up a strong signal! Once more, it is not the “restrictive internet” that the school and military get. This means I can check my personal email, update my blog, and chat on Skype from my same building! I’m stoked.
A couple of nights ago I went out with one of the senior teachers to a local pub. It was great to relax, throw a couple down, and converse. There were some Brit’s at the pub, and we caught a couple of “hey listen to those goofy Americans talk” looks, but the bartender was a sweet lady.
For the past 3 nights I have woken up at 4 in the morning on the dot. Wide awake! It has been a struggle to fall back asleep. Yesterday the other student teacher and I got our Military ID cards, which is a huge relief. With these cards we do not have to carry around our passports and we do not require a “sponsor” to go on the bases with us. The process to get the ID card was hilarious. Before going in I thought to myself “This is the military right? This should be a concise and speedy process. I’ll be in and out.” We get to the ID place and the computers are down and we have outdated paperwork from 2004. Great. So while we are waiting for the system to get back up, which could be “an-e tim, ma, I on e-un no” said the Louisiana-native desk man (Roughly translated means “any time sir, I do not know at this time”). We go to the local High School to get the correct paperwork and are helped by a truly sweet secretary named Ruthie. As we are out the door at the high school we get a call from the ID place and he says the system is up and we are first in line. Finally a chance to see the precision of the military in action, right? No. We waited 20 minutes in the lobby. My name was called first, so I walk to the back room. 2 hours and 5,263 thumb twiddles later me and the other student teacher have our ID cards. It was the girls first day, and their manual for the process was outdated….it was frustrating to say the least.
None-the-less I also got an address!! My official address for people sending me awesome care packages is:
PSC 41 BOX 3035
APO AE 09464
I believe that zip code is in New York. Any letters or packages will go to the post office for all Military bases abroad, and then be sent from there. I think that because I am on a military base, the postage should be cheap, as if you were sending something in the states. Letters take 6-8 days, packages take 8-10 days. With that being said, you have no excuse! Send away. I will take anything and everything. My walls are bare, my pantry empty, my drawers sparse, and my library small. Send me pictures, notes, food, candy, movies (I will have a T.V. and DVD player soon!), and anything creative that you think may help me on my travels.
Here are some pictures of my room!
Traveling Halbury update: Next weekend my fellow student teacher and I will be taking a bus to the final stop of the tube, and riding it into the heart of London! I am really excited. It will be my first week of school, so there shouldn’t be too much planning to do for class. I am taking suggestions for something great to do on a weekend get-away in London.
On another note: Last night I went to a great Italian restaurant in Brandon, a nearby town. A couple of teachers are retiring and it was their last “guys night out getaway” with all the other older male teachers. It was truly a great experience. We drank beer from a local brewery across the street. I ate a salad and the Penne Arabiata with plenty of bread for dipping. Arabiata is a really spicy, peppery red sauce (if you know anything about my culinary cravings, you know that I love spicy food!). Delicioso! The best part about the evening was the experience of sitting quietly on the end of the table and observing these salty old teachers give each other a ton of shit and exchanging inside jokes. I really loved the contrast of these older teachers, who have traveled the world, taught for over 30 years, and had a ton of life’s experiences vs. Colin and I who are greener than the mossy British grass when it comes to teaching and generally life. It was a jolly good time, and I hope that my semester is filled with moments like last night.
British word/phrase of the day: Chesterfield- meaning sofa or couch. “I say good chap, fancy a seat on the Chesterfield?”
Is this post long enough yet? I think so. Please comment and give suggestions on things that you would like to hear about.
Much love from a small island far away,
Thursday, January 22, 2009
It was a fairly uneventful flight. My plane out of SeaTac was delayed about 30 min, just long enough for me to see Obama sworn in, but not long enough for me to see his speech (I later read the captions of his entire speech in the London-Heathrow airport). This delay made my already short layover in Chicago,very short. I sprinted about 30 terminals away. Luckily I used some very intense speed walking techniques to get there, and I had 5 min to spare! whew. The long flight over the Atlantic was as expected: less than mediocre food, stiff seats, bad/old movies, and of course stale air. I awoke at 2:00 am to a present from a fellow passenger- one of the most pungent farts I have ever smelled! It woke me up for Christ's sake! Later we hit some turbulence (it is a trans-Atlantic flight right!) and a lady 2 rows ahead of me starts shouting "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" over and over, about 10-15 times in all. Followed by something unintelligible in her native tongue and then "You promise me now! You promise me!" with conviction. It was great entertainment for me and my fellow passengers. Every time we hit turbulence, we took our headphones off so we could hear her out-loud prayers.
Anyways, I am here safe and sound. I waited in Heathrow for about 6 hours for my fellow student teacher, Colin. That was awful. There is nothing like following a 11.5 hour flight with a 6 hour stay in an airport. As a side note, there were no garbage's in Heathrow...not even in the bathrooms! What do people do with their crap here?
We took the 2.5 hour bus to a stop by the base. Colin's cooperating teacher picked us up and took us around the bases. There are three in all Lakenheath, Mildenhall, and Feltwell. We got a beer, some pizza, and a great tour. We finally got to our lodging. It is way better that I was expecting. My room is like 2 dorm-rooms together. A single bed. 2 dressers. Computer desk. Microwave. Mini fridge. all that junk. Also there was a neon colored comforter and sheets in one of the drawers! We have good toilets and showers on our floor. Right below us is a gym-type 2 room workout facility. The weights are closed down, but all the cardio equip. is still usable. I ran 3.5 miles this morning!
Today (day 2) we slept in as long as we could (I woke up at 4 am, and forced myself to sleep for 4 more hours). Then made the long journey over to the middle school (about a 1 min walk). My base, Feltwell, is very remote. There is one shopette (convenience store) and that's about it. So I will need consistent access to the other bases for almost everything from laundry to groceries to movies to shopping of any sort to beer to Internet (maybe, i am trying to find out a way to get Internet at my place). (I just realized that I was using a lot of parentheses) (I will try to stop) (sorry).
So today at the middle school I met a lot of people. It will take me weeks to get all the names down. but my cooperating teacher, Mr. John Mitchell is very nice, and extremely accommodating and generous. He has offered Colin and I one of his cars that he doesn't use. If we can get the insurance situation figured out, it will be an huge resource! The facilities at the middle school are incredible. It is new, and cost about 5 million to build. All the teachers have smart-boards and great equipment. the gym is nice, but the acoustics are horrible- when I yell at my kids, they wouldn't be able to hear me. (Just joking, I'm not a yell-er). Other than that, I got my school ID badge today, will get my military base badge tomorrow, and this weekend Colin and I are attending a retirement party for 3 or 4 teachers from the school.
Please be patient readers. I have not abandoned you, my blogs just may be inconsistent for a bit until I can find some Internet. I hope you all are well. Miss you already!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Well I have one week exactly until I leave to do my student teaching on a US Air Force base in Lakenheath, England. I remember this rush of emotion well. Stomach in knots. Can’t sleep at night. My mind full of questions like: Where will I be staying? What will it look like? How will I get around? Who will I meet? How will I pack all of this into one bag? Am I ready for student teaching? What if I am told to take full control of the class on the first day? Will there be a grocery store near by? Will I have opportunities to mingle with the local Brits? That is the point of traveling right?
For me, before I leave for an extended adventure at a relatively unknown destination, I try to imagine and visually plan out as far as I can. I do this fully knowing that it will be nothing like how I imagine it (for better or worse). So far I have gotten to the airport in Heathrow (London). I imagine it being huge, one of the major airport hubs of Europe, with each “Terminal” being the equivalent of a Sea-Tac. I can’t imagine much further than that, mainly because I do not know more than that. I am still unsure how I will get to the base, RAF Feltwell, and I have no clue what my living quarters will look like. I have been told I will be above a “Youth Center” in a dorm-like apartment- but even that is not guaranteed.
I suppose I should include a statement of purpose for this blog huh? I have never done one of these before. I have a great mentor in my brother, due to the fact that his blog is exceptionally interesting and fun to explore. Also my empty nester mother has explored the blogging world with great success. My main purpose is to post photos of my travels, keep my family and friends posted on my weekly life, and maybe to express my thoughts (vent) on being a student teacher. I welcome comments and suggestions.
Check for updates often. 7 days! Can’t wait!