- Live and Work in Barcelona
- Teach English in Asia
- Get a Master's Degree in Teaching---maybe through the PACE program?
- Finish two years of service with AmeriCorps (in New England or Alaska)
- Get a Trucker's License
- Travel in Europe (in Venice, Rome, Vatican City)
- Go on a Vegetarian Cruise
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
By reading 173 books, I met my 150 book challenge. Going into this challenge, I really had no idea how many books I read in an average year. This seems about right---around three books a week. I don't want to pressure myself to read more, just for the sake of meeting a new challenge. I'm comfortable with this number.
I read 39 young adult books, and met my Juvenile Literature Challenge of two books per month. I enjoyed these books tremendously, especially the Pippi Longstocking and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. I read portions of these books to my struggling second and third grade readers, and they were soon begging to check them out from the tutoring room library.
I completed the Classical Book Challenge. I read twelve classic books this year. Some of them were a little unconventional (The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson and Helen Keller's "The Story of My Life," for example). If I had the chance to do this challenge over, I would have read Dracula and a few longer works.
I didn't finish the Love Bites Reading Challenge, the Banned Books Challenge, or the Gay Literature Challenge. I get way too in to the Twilight books when I read them, to the exclusion of everything else. Having several college courses to finish up and a ton of hours to build up for my AmeriCorps position, I just couldn't go there this year. I'll probably finish the last two books in the series this year.
I wish I had read more books for the Gay Literature Challenge. I read Annie On My Mind, and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, my library has a very limited Gay Literature selection. I'll have to order some books off Paperback Swap this year.
Annie On My Mind also fell under the Banned Book Challenge, which was fun. I read a lot of hotly contested Juvenile Literature books, and shared some of them with my students. Somehow, knowing that a book is banned makes it all the more enticing, and spurred several reluctant readers to devour lengthy books.
I read a lot more young adult books than I expected to, and it's come in so useful for my reading tutor position. I can now recommend books with confidence. I have a huge collection of my very favorites lining the bottom of the whiteboard, ready for children to check them out. Some of my absolute favorites? Pippi Longstocking, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and The Rumplestiltskin Problem.
I didn't meet the Decades Challenge (I was two books short), but I plan to carry it over into the new year, along with the Gay Literature Challenge. This should be fun!
Happy New Year, and Merry Reading!
Monday, December 28, 2009
Doctors' offices never feel clean. It would be hard to, given that all of the visitors are sick, and spewing germs. During a fit of boredom a few weeks ago when I was home sick, I clocked just how far cough germs can spread (using a bit of cracker for a test). The results were scary!
I always feel like dousing myself in Lysol when I get back from the doctor's office. Who knows what germs are there!
Am I the only one to feel this way?
Sunday, December 27, 2009
YouTube is also a big hit---just google funny videos, and prepare yourself for hours of fun. YouTube also has clips of TV shows and movies, which are always entertaining to watch.
I love the sheer number of blogs online, focusing on anything from living a plastic free life, to stay-at-home dads.
Life is never dull online.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I've had good jobs---reading tutor with AmeriCorps, and English teacher to refugees and immigrants in Minnesota. I've also had some crazy jobs: English teacher with a European Academy in Guatemala, where my boss paid off the gangs to keep the teachers from being kidnapped, and selling plasma. Nothing too entirely special jobs were working in the college dining service, and acting as a custodial trainer.
Somehow ordinary jobs just can't be normal for me, though. Even working as a custodial trainer, I managed to discover that my coworker was a drug dealer and get hit on by a retired monk. Average? Hardly.
Nothing beats my job in a little, out of the way Spanish academy in Xela, Guatemala, where I fended off the advances of my three bosses while trying to get my full paycheck. It was always a negotiation. "Will you take half your wages? We're a non-profit!" Me: "No. I need to make rent this month." Them: "I don't have change." Me: "I do." Erg!
That job had a rather interesting ending: I was forced to quit after my student proposed to me, and my bosses refused to do anything about it.
At least life is never dull!
Monday, December 21, 2009
On the plus side, I got to meet a mechanical engineering student from India who was finishing up his first semester at North Dakota State University, and see the best behaved little one-year-old in my life.
Although the bus hit some ice under an overpass and nearly toppled into the ditch, our driver's twenty years of experience kept us from harm. The vast majority of our drivers were witty and kind, and tried to make our bus trips as enjoyable as possible, despite their long hours.
Overall, this was a great trip.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
For seventeen dollars, I was able to pay the school fees of a Guatemalan child so that she can attend school for one year. This amount is a pittance in American dollars, but far beyond the reach of many families in Guatemala.
How do you give back?
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I'll be spending two nights and an entire day on the bus on my way home for Christmas, and then one night and two days on the way back. I can't tell which is worse. In the day I can see the (snowy) scenery, but that might just make the trip feel even longer. At night, I'll have to scrunch up into a reclining seat and try to sleep (for two nights straight!). At least the trip won't be dull.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I was soon reassured that I was, in fact, in the right place. Our presenter told us very matter-of-factly that she was "simply passionate!" about watersheds. And so the rousing discussion of "What's your watershed?" began.
Now, I use cloth bags and even cloth pads for crying out loud, but I do not for the life of me know what my watershed is. Even back in my home state, if you asked me at gunpoint to identify my watershed, I wouldn't be able to. I mean, I'm thrilled to realize that I even know what a watershed is!
That conference on understanding poverty is starting to look better and better all the time.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I keep pulling up great fares, only to find out that the price just expired. The new rate is at least double the old one. I just went through this! Can this even be legal? Maybe I'm just thinking unethical. Whatever it is, it sure isn't too much fun.
I am seriously considering Greyhound. Since I've never had the (distinct?) pleasure of going on one, this might be the perfect time. Saving $200 doesn't sound half bad, either. Another student loan payment, here I come!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
It's been two more weeks, and I'm still not feeling all that great. I still occasionally fall asleep at five in the afternoon, and only wake up when my alarm goes off in the morning. Maybe it's time for another doctors visit.
I'm lucky to have really good insurance. The cost of doctors visits are negligible. I hate to think what will happen when I reach twenty-five and am off my family's insurance policy---hopefully I'll have a good job by then (I guess living on a volunteer's living stipend won't be an option anymore). Monthly medication costs for depression meds are astronomical---nearly two hundred dollars without insurance. Going without them is not an option---it's just miserable, and not conducive to holding a steady job and living in any reasonably fulfilling way.
In the meantime, I will volunteer as much as possible, and try to discover my life's calling (that sounds so corny!) Hopefully I'll figure it all out soon.