Friday, November 28, 2008

Gift-shopping season is upon us.

Somehow that just now occurred to me. Maybe it was a side effect of living in a television-free bubble, maybe I've just been too busy with students, but in any case, Thanksgiving is over and I haven't figured out what I'm going to get anyone. By this time the past two years, I had researched prices, ordered everything online, and been done with it all. I was one of those smug people who began making lists of gift ideas in July. Now I have no clue and less access to shopping facilities if my plan of getting everything through the interwebs doesn't pan out.

I used up my one halfway decent gift idea for my brother last month. My parents are in a position where if there was something they really wanted that I could afford, they've probably already have bought it for themselves so I have to find things they'd enjoy but aren't aware of. Thanks to the C. family drawing of names, I need to figure out what to get for my cousin's wife, a very nice woman I barely know. Are my roommate and I doing gifts? Would it be thoughtful to get her something I know she could use in her classroom, or is it better to explicitly acknowledge that she's a person who cares about things beyond elementary school music?

I also have no sense of my budget. As backwards as it seems, for Christmas shopping it was always easier to set a budget once I had somewhat figured out what I was buying most people. That only works when you've planned ahead. I could stick with the budget I kept the past two years, but since I've transitioned from being a student to being a teacher I have considerably more discretionary income and it seems a little chintzy. However, if I don't budget at all, I'm liable to go wild.

I guess I have a day to think about it. Although I probably won't quite observe Buy Nothing Day this year since I'm having lunch with my friend today and still intend to try to pay, I have no intentions whatsoever of hitting any of the big box stores. My friend did mention visiting our favorite used bookstores as a probable activity for today's (gulp) date, but I suspect it will be reasonably well removed from today's consumerist feeding frenzy so I wouldn't feel quite so bad if I ended up leaving a few dollars there as well.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Advantages to living in the middle of nowhere.

I suppose it is actually a blessing that I live an hour and a half from the nearest office supply store. I'd spend far more on my classroom if I could just go buy things when I need them. (Sigh.)

Dating, oh no, dating!

My old friend and I have kept emailing. We agreed to get together and catch up one day after Thanksgiving when I'll still be in town visiting my family and he'll have returned from visiting his. Then the emails led to telephone calls, the fantastic, funny, "Are you aware that we've yet again spent over an hour on the phone without realizing it?" sort of calls. It was nice.

Then he rather abruptly asked me, "How do you feel about me?" In the course of what may have well been among the top ten most stilted conversations of my life, he asked if we could consider it a date when we go out. Fool that I am, I said yes. Then I proceeded to explain why I really shouldn't be dated by anyone. Unfortunately, he was not dissuaded.

I'm going to panic, already am panicking actually. Although I have, as he pointed out, dated before, I'm pretty sure he is unaware that the total number of first dates I've been on is exactly one. The only thing I know for sure about this whole date thing is that he's already insisting on buying me lunch, and I don't want to let him, but he insists that he's really happy he can do so (his financial situation was much tighter a couple of months ago before he got roommates), and I don't want to wound his pride. So money is complicating things before they even begin.

I'm nervous that things will go badly, and I'm even more nervous that they'll go well. If the whole thing crashes and burns, we've needlessly added layers of awkwardness to what was a pretty pleasant non-romantic relationship. If it proves to be an enjoyable experience, well, I still don't need a boyfriend. There are far too many reasons why that's a horrendous idea right now, most of them too personal to go into here. Tentative, casual dating might prove to be not the worst thing in the world, but I can't see how casually dating someone who lives three hundred miles away would work. So I'm doomed, doomed but momentarily happy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I'm not quitting my job, not this year at least. If I had it to do over again, I would probably have chosen a different path, perhaps one that involved teaching in a sane school district, but I'm here now so I should make the best of it, even when it sucks, which is often. There are moments when I wonder how I can possibly make this work, like when I had to call security to haul out the bully who decided to threaten one of the special education students or when I deal with one particular kid in my homeroom who has decided he hates my guts and is going to tell me so loudly, repeatedly, and in the most disrespectful manner possible in class every day. There are the days when I wonder why I'm part of this, like when we had staff development and some of my colleagues started yelling at the workshop leader about how he could not possibly have anything valuable to offer because he didn't grow up a poor, black child in the Delta. Then the principal joined in and started ranting about a documentary he considers to be a "KIPP propaganda film" and things just went downhill from there.

Then, of course, I learned that one of my favorite kids made a 12 on the ACT last month. One of my most diligent students asked me at the end of class one day what one could do besides teach if one decided to study anatomy in college, and I now have a swarm of seniors asking me for advice on applying to college. I met the enchanting toddler daughter of one of my seniors, and I couldn't imagine walking out on her father and his classmates. I'm still not good at this, but I'm needed here nonetheless.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh crud.

I had my wallet this afternoon when I stopped by the water department to pay our bill on my way home. Now it is nowhere to be found. I probably just set it somewhere when I got home and then forgot about it, but I'm not sure. There's a small but extant chance that it fell out of my pocket in the parking lot.

I've made a quick phone call to USAA to put holds on my debit and credit cards. The ETS webiste revealed that my passport will indeed work for identification for yet another Praxis test tomorrow morning (Earth Science Content Knowledge, yes, Earth Science, because my brilliant state has decreed that all 7-12 science teachers must become familiar with geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy). I have plenty of cash on hand, and I still have the debit card to my old hometown checking account stashed in my lockbox so I have access to the $990 remaining in that account if I need it. So if worst comes to worst, I go get a new license and library card, send off for new debit and credit cards, and end up losing the $9 I had in my wallet. It's a minor blip, but I'm still feeling very annoyed at myself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday

My little brother turned twenty one today. I called him during lunch to wish him a happy birthday because I wasn't sure I'd be able to catch him before he had to leave for work if I'd called after school. Afterward, I sat in my classroom weeping and struggled to pull myself together before fifth period. I'm not altogether sure why. He's three hundred miles away, and that's just wrong.

We fought a lot when we were little, and things didn't really get easier as we got older. I was the annoying good example our parents expected him to live up to. He had the good sense to rebel, and my parents expected me to try to get him back on track. He didn't take kindly to my coaching him through the scholarship application process, and we were both wildly unenthusiastic about my parents' idea that I needed to offer sage council after his first semester of college when his grades put him perilously close to losing that scholarship.

Yet, we got closer nonetheless. During his first year of college, we started getting together on Monday nights, grabbing dinner at the student union, and then heading back to my dorm for silly sitcoms. Sibling t.v. night became sacrosanct, and we carried the tradition on last year after we moved into apartments a couple of blocks away from each other. We'd meet at his place, cook dinner, often go do our grocery shopping for the week together, watch television, talk, do homework, and just generally enjoy each other. It was amazing.

Now we're both trying to figure out how to cope with life outside of college. He's back home, struggling to pay his bills on wages from a part-time job at a pizzeria (plus some parental subsidies) while he spends the year trying to figure out what to do with his life before (we hope) heading back to school. I have more money than I know what to do with, but I'm marooned in the Delta trying to teach. One of the bright spots in the past few weeks was my brothers' suggestion that we both wait to watch Heroes together this summer, and I can hardly wait for the chance to go hang out with one of my favorite people.

I miss him like crazy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've got to try to be extra good this month.

It's only been two days since payday, and I'm already feeling the budget crunch. My brother's birthday is next week and I haven't ordered his gift yet. Thanksgiving means travel home, which means a couple of tanks of gas, though gas prices hovering just above two dollars a gallon have given me new hope that the trip won't have the same budgetary impact it had in August. Going home also means I'll be in a city with interesting things to blow money on, and I know that I probably won't be able to resist the temptations of Thai food, my favorite used book store, or a movie theater that's less than an hour and a half away.

This should all be manageable on one paycheck, but not if I succumb to my frivolous whims in the meantime. I keep going to the Supercenter for groceries and then thinking, "Ooh, makeup! Ooh, scented candles. Ooh, overpriced but delicious cookies!" Not good, not good at all. Any one item wouldn't make a big dent, but if I let myself start to slip, there will be nothing left at the end of the month.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Darn it.

Lately I began writing to an old friend with whom I lost touch for a couple of years, and his ridiculously bizarre, goofy, wonderful emails have given me a reason to get out of bed on a couple of truly lousy days lately. Tonight I was perusing his myspace page and found that he's posted about the struggle to afford to go out and have fun and still fund his IRA. How cool is that?

I don't need to have a crush on anyone right now. I can barely find the time to compose a decent email daily so a relationship is out of the question. As emotionally wrecked as I am right now, it wouldn't be healthy either. He also lives five hours away. And even if none of those things were considerations, I'd feel weird about pursuing someone I repeatedly rejected in high school. Unfortunately, it seems that a couple of mildly flirtatious emails plus evidence of some financial awareness is all it takes to pique my interest these days.