Sunday, November 6, 2011

An Experiment in Domesticity

"Walk feminine, talk feminine, da-da-da-da-da-da-DA feminine..." or so Disney says. One of those unfortunate but required feminine qualities is that of cooking. I, as many know, have no moves in the kitchen. My diet consists of frozen burritos, Pizza pockets, Mac & Cheese, and anything that can be eaten straight out of the fridge. However, as part of a self-improvement phase I've been trying out recently, I decided to tempt fate and voluntarily hosted a dinner party/girls' night at my new digs (aka parents' basement) in Murray last night with some old roommates. And this was the result:

I didn't poison anyone! In fact, it actually tasted halfway decent! This is a very big moment in my "growing up" process. It turns out, I CAN follow a recipe and not make a disaster of everything.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

simple bliss

After work today, Robbie came up to Murray and I took him to O Falafel to give him a little taste of Jerusalem because I still miss it so much sometimes it hurts. He loved it (or so he tells me). Win.

We then headed over to Sugarhouse park and laid in the grass during the golden hour listening to a gospel choir perform, talking, laughing, lovin, and havin our "souls marinate in spirituality." Heaven. Mondays in the Park are my new favorite thing.

We finished out the night with Arctic Circle shakes and the Adjustment Bureau. Before watching I warned him he better not fall asleep because we have been waiting a long time to see this movie! Well shortly after my warning that an unspeakable evil will be unleashed if he were to doze, I fell asleep, of course. Story of my life. And he didn't even rub it in my face. What a gem. What a day.

So simple, but SO good. I love my life.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Just got paid.

Jobs are awesome.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Leaving Neverland

Well peeps, it's real.

I am officially a down-town-walkin', lunch-break-takin', computer-systems-learnin', water-cooler-chattin', cubicle-sittin', health-benefits-gettin', commutin', post-graduate workin' woman! (If you followed that, WOW, I am impressed)

I am very happy to have some direction in my life and am SOOOOO grateful to have a job. But for the sake of being honest, I will tell you I have some mixed emotions about this whole "working" business. I mean, giving up the days of gettin' my swim on at the pool whenever I want was a big blow. Bigger than I was prepared for. For some self-expression, I'm gonna take you through the annals of my mind and tell you why I'm SO excited to have this job as well as tell you what I miss about the pre-job simple life.

Why my job is awesome:

  • I am still working with kids the age I love, in the field of education, without having to prepare lessons for HOURS every night. (I really do want to teach later on, but that whole lesson-planning thing flat-out bites).

  • I'm doing something worthwhile. The kids I get to work with are all in need of some intervention. They have all dropped out of high school for various reasons and the program I work for gives them the chance to get their diploma and get their lives back on track. I have already been SO inspired by some of their stories.

  • The people in my office are awesome. awesome and quirky. Just the way I like 'em.

  • We had an office birthday party today in the breakroom. with cake. by the water cooler. I felt like I was watching it happen on TV.

  • I work down-town and it makes me feel real classy. I can take my sack lunch and go eat in Gallivan center plaza, walking amongst the business men in their collared shirts and ties, and I think to myself..."Whoa...I am one of you."

  • I have two, count them TWO, screens for my computer. Sometimes I just sit for a second and watch the mouse move back and forth between the two screens because it blows my mind.

  • I get a salary. Weird. I can FINALLY start paying back those student loans and maaaaaybe even eventuallyyyyyy get a new car. WHAT?! No! Never! Gladice I would never!

  • Later on, I am told I will have a lot of flexibility with the job. I will probably even be able to work from home two days a week. Yessss

  • Everyone that works for this awesome company is there because they genuinely want the kids to succeed. That is their top priority. It's really refreshing to see humanity at work.

Things I miss about the simple life:

  • As previously stated, going to the pool whenever I want.

  • My morning routine of sleeping in, reading, working out, and thinking, "So...what do I want to do with myself today?!"

  • The choice to go on a morning hike (although this summer I never, not once, took advantage of this blessing despite my many failed attempts). But still, having the choice was nice.

  • Not having a bed time. When you have the morning routine stated above, why do you need to be well-rested? I'll tell you. You don't. It's awesome.

  • Not only do I work 8 hours each day, but I drive anywhere from 2-3 because I am currently living in Provo, working in downtown Salt Lake. The commute sometimes is only an hour but SOMETIMES it's not, which makes me want to roll all my windows up so no one can hear me and scream at the top of my lungs. But I don't do that, because it's too hot to roll the windows up and Gladice doesn't have air conditioning.

  • I can't just go on vacation whenever I want anymore. I have a specified number of "Personal Time Off" days (foreign concept) and have to request them well in advance. Sadly, when you first start a job, you have even less freedom, which means that of all the following activities happening within the next two months (a friend's wedding, my graduation, Havasupai with friends, camping trip also with friends, Lake Powell with the fam, California with my girls, Lagoon with my big family, Seven Peaks with my sisters, and so on and so on) I can't do them all. In fact, I can't do most of them. Whaaaaaaaaa.....?

Looking at this list now that I've compiled it, I realize that I sound more like a child than a 26-year old. But alas, I am young at heart and will always pine for the freedom I once had. Is that selfish?

BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT with that said, I have to say the pro's outweigh the con's. As much as I hate to admit it, it's time to be an adult. And it actually feels kind of good. Being productive, earning a living, it really feels...refreshing. All this time, my dad was right. Who woulda thought?

So now that you have seen into the deep caverns of my mind, I will tell you how grateful I am to have this job. I will love what I will be doing each day. There are some sacrifices but when you put it into perspective, what meaningful, enriched life was spent by the side of a pool?

Monday, May 23, 2011

So American.

The other day my mom and I were out shopping when my dad called saying he wanted us to stop for some Taco Bell tacos on the way home. We went through the drive-thru and my mom saw this deal: 12 tacos for only $10. Mind you, I wasn't hungry, nor was she. But still, this deal screamed out to her. Our dialogue went something like this:

"Look babe, maybe we should get this deal. 12 tacos for only 10 bucks."

"Mom, I don't think Dad needs 12 tacos."

"Well, yeah but he'll probably want like three, plus maybe one for me and one for you."

"We're not really hungry."

"Yeah, but we might want just one. So if we get those five it's gonna be around 5 bucks anyway. We might as well get the deal."

I paused for a second, thought through that, and replied,
"Yep. Let's pay twice as much to get WAY more than we need. We are so American."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Love is...

...when you find someone that makes you feel like driving around lost for three hours due to making 16 wrong turns was the time of your life.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

DC Times

Hey folks!

I know it's been awhile and I have lots and lots to catch you up on. Unfortunately this is gonna be a quick one, hopefully followed by a longer one sometime soon. And it's not even about school (though I do have some really funny stories to add to the list).

What I DO want to share happened about a month ago when this guy....

...came to visit. It was a dream and the best three and a half days I could have asked for. The tragedy is that the above picture was one of only three pictures that were taken THE ENTIRE WEEKEND! What is wrong with me?! Never again will I let so many photo opps pass me by. Anyways, despite not having photographic evidence of the weekend, it was a blast (you'll just have to trust me). We went all over and saw everything we could fit in. Memorials and museums to your heart's content. We even ate Ethiopian food which was an interesting and (dare I say) delicious experience. The whole weekend was so good and just what I needed.

Now just five semanas before it happens again!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

To Be The Exception

Something happened when we first arrived here in DC that I've been thinking a lot about lately. It wasn't anything really big, but something that still made me take a minute and think. We were going on tours of all the schools we were going to be working with. At one point we went on a tour of Duke Ellington High School (a performing arts school) where they had just performed the show Dream Girls. On a wall near the front of the school was a big sign that said,

"What's Your Dream?"

The kids had written all kinds of answers on pieces of paper and stuck them up to the wall. Most were fairly detailed and lengthy. Some talked about graduation, some about which college they wanted to go to, some mentioned Broadway. But there was one that stuck out to me. All it said was,

"To Be The Exception."

I've been thinking a lot about that lately. On several levels. First, on the kids' level. For many of them, academic success IS being the exception. At my school, so many of my kids have rough home lives and parents that are not involved in the least. For them to rise above that is to be the exception. For us, it was expected to do well in school. For many of them, it's not. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I guess just to say that I never realized how much harder it must be for them to try when they know that if they fail, no one will care. It makes me realize how little patience I've had with some of them since I got here, even when I tried not to let it show. My mindset wasn't in the right place. More than someone constantly getting after them or disciplining them, they need someone to show that they care if they succeed. It's a trickier road and may take awhile to earn that trust, but that's going to motivate them to be the exception way more than being yelled at all the time.

This phrase also made me think of how often I push myself to be the exception. I feel like I've lived an okay life. But is that because the path to do so was laid out right in front of me? In what areas of my life do I push myself to go beyond what's expected of me and really stretch myself to become the exception? It also made me wonder who in my life has worked to become the exception. My dad is one of those. Growing up, he was surrounded by a very different lifestyle than the one he chooses to live now. And I'll never be able to show enough gratitude for that. My brother-in-law is also the exception. He rose above what teachers initially saw in him to show them how dedicated he was to his future. He is, without a doubt, the most dedicated student I have ever seen and will be a phenomenal doctor because of it. Florina, my Romanian sister, is the exception. Despite her family's struggles, she did her best to make something of herself and now uses that to help her family. She is one of the most selfless people I know. The list goes on and on. Every day, people rise above expectations to become something better. So I guess what I want to say is just that I'm grateful for those people in my life. They inspire me to be something better than what I am. They make me want to be the exception.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's about time!

Well folks, it's real! I'm here. In DC. Teaching. We have had a whirlwind of a time since we've been here. We've been in the schools for 2 1/2 weeks and I have new funny stories to share every single day from our kids, our teachers, our administrators, you name it. Here is a little sampling of some of my most unforgettable moments in the classroom thus far. Mind you, this is just a small portion of what we have experienced up til now, but there are some gems.

  • Our mentor teacher's name is Ms. Wickersham, but the kids all know her as "MIZ WIKASHAM!" and let me tell you, this woman has ATTITUDE. It must be something that just comes eventually when you teach in this setting but this white, middle-aged woman can keep up with the best of our thugs and divas. Today, after confronting one student about not coming in at lunch to work on her project like she was supposed to, Ms. Wickersham received attitude and a pretty dramatic eye roll from said student. She went after her, backed her (literally) into a corner, and said, "Erica, when are you gonna learn. I am older than you, bigger than you, uglier than you, and yes, I WILL jack you up!" Yes, that is a direct quote. Of course, there is always a very subtle tone of joking when things like this are said but still, these kids know not to cross the line with Miz Wikasham.
  • On our first day, we were standing outside the classroom talking to Ms. Wickersham when another student, Lali, yelled from the back of the classroom, "Who are THEY?!" obviously talking about the two new white girls speaking to their teacher. Ms. Wickersham didn't even miss a beat before yelling, "Oh I KNOW you did not just say 'who are they!'" Seeing her mistake, Lali swallowed her attitude and in her sweetest voice, replied, "I mean, who are those pretty ladies Miz Wikasham?"
  • When Josh, one of our craziest kids, couldn't remember my name one of our first mornings there, he just looked at me confused for a minute and said, "Miz Puchi...? Cabuchi...? Oh I know, Miz Cheeto!" Needless to say, I gave up on the kids trying to learn Ms. Trujillo. I am now Miz T. Although Josh still calls me Miz Cheeto.
  • One day one of our girls came in after school to work on a project involving Shiva, one of the Hindu deities. Her task was to think of popular song titles that illustrate the traits of this particular deity. From across the room she shouted out, "Isn't that da one dat's half man half woman?" When I said yes, she said, "Well, I'm gonna pick dat one song by Katy Perry. You know, dat one dat's like 'ya hot then yo cold, ya yes then yo no. It works because Shiva, she don know what ta do wit he'self!"

  • While having a class discussion on Buddhism which was in no way related to sexual intimacy, one girl asked, "What if you a Buddhist and ya have sex a lot? Is that bad?" When Ms. Wickersham said, "Yes, Domonique, that's bad," Dom replied, "But what if ya not married?"

  • One day two kids were running down the hall being completely out of control (which in this school is UNACCEPTABLE) and Courtney, my roommate that I team-teach with in Ms. Wickersham's classroom, ended up catching them both by the arm and dragging them back to the teacher that would discipline them. One of our boys witnessed the catch and said, "Man, Miz Hruby, you're startin' ta get the hang a' this teacher thing."

  • One of the things I think I'm going to learn before I leave this place is how to be stern with the kids when I need to. In all my teaching experience up til now, I always really wanted the kids to like me. I still do, naturally, but I am also learning that if the kids call me mean every once in awhile, that's more of a compliment than an insult. It means that I'm pushing them past where they want to be and that I'm choosing to care about that more than being liked by them. My roommate mastered this right away in our classroom but it's taken me a few weeks to be able to push past that need to be liked. It's a work in progress but I'm learning. The other day I told Rashaad with a little attitude of my own that if he'd stop talking during warm-up, he'd actually understand what was going on in class. His response was, "Man, i thoughtchoo wa' da nice one." Win.

  • Just a few days later, the kids were working on projects using laptops in the classroom. One boy, Jason, was using his computer to play games, take pictures, change his password a kajillion times, anything other than what he was supposed to be doing. I'd already gotten after him a few times with no results. I finally came and stood right behind him and stayed there, arms folded, looking at him. Feeling extremely uncomfortable, he kept telling me to go away. When I gave no response but to look at him with the look, he decided to be clever and funny, changing his password one final time to "ihatethewomanstandingbehindme" which he said out loud to the kids around him. A few of them snickered nervously and looked at me, maybe wondering if I was going to break. I stayed there and said, "so be it." Jason's next move was pulling up his project to work on it.

  • For the most part, the kids have a LOT of attitude with each other but give us very little of the nasty stuff. But man is it funny to watch them interact. One dirty look requires an entire body roll to get the full effect. Sometimes I don't even understand the slang they use with each other.

  • As far as other adults in the school go, we have some winners. Ms. Hernandez is the guidance counselor for the seventh grade and she may be the sweetest creature I have ever met. She is probably 4'10" and 100 lbs. soaking wet. She's Hispanic with a thick little accent and she loves chatting with us. The other day, she told us, "Oh, I tried to make a joke today to da keedz, and I thought it would be so funny. They were doing make-up work and I said, ' It's make-up time, but not like estee lauder!' But no one laughed! I should have said Bonnebelle or something. Oh well, next time I guess." And then she just laughed and walked out. Haha, love her.

  • Among the adults in the school, we also have the scariest vice principal known to man. He is a middle-aged black man with a BOOMING voice. He is so nice to us and the rest of the faculty but he is the kids' worst nightmare. For some of them, he may be the only person in their life that they are truly scared of. This is just one of the several instances I have heard him giving a whooping to a badly-behaved kid. From what I can remember, it went something like this: "Now WHY were you outside?! Boy, you LOOK at me when I'm talkin to you! You go downstairs and you think of a good answer to that question. You just wasted a minute and 27 seconds of my life that I am never gonna get back." After the boy leaves, he turns to Ms. Wickersham and says (still fairly loudly and within earshot of the kid) "I thought you said he was smart."

Well, that's probably about enough for now. Man, these kids are HILARIOUS. Every day in our classroom is a new adventure. I love every single second of it.