Thursday, June 23, 2011

On too many job interview road trips.

This is what 3-5 days of my week feel like lately. I am, at this point, after 15 or so interviews, entirely burned out. Sick of doing these things
  1. Pack. Pack interview clothes, clothes to wear while driving to avoid ruining interview clothes. Various diversions: netbook, mp3 player and headphones, kanji textbook, coloring books if I think I'll have way too much downtime. Food, so I don't have to spend so much money. 
  2. Drive. At least 150 miles. Probably more like 400. Less, if I'm lucky, more if I'm not. Listen to the Book of Mormon soundtrack, Lady Gaga, the Spice Girls if I'm feeling really tired. Work on my Kevin Rowland impression for future kareoke moments.
  3. Arrive somewhere. Usually the same chain of hotels. I've already earned a free night thanks to a summer promotion. I like to stay here because they always have wifi, usually pools.
  4. Room. Bring my shit to my room. Put all the food in the fridge. Make sure the wifi  is working. Lay around and try to shake off all that driving. Go swimming and do as many handstands as possible in the shallow part of the pool. Read books all night, or pass out immediately. Watch Conan if I think of it. Apparently, the only time I feel the need to watch "late night" shows is when I'm in a hotel. 
  5. Morning. Do some streching, try to practice handstands if there's enough wall space to lean on, put on makeup because interviews are one of the few occasions when I feel like I'm really supposed to wear it. Still not sure if it actually is making a difference in making me look professional. Check out. Depending on what time the interview is, idle away some time at a Denny's.
  6. Interview. Answer questions about my "educational background," try to remember that doesn't just mean where I went to school. Talk about the classroom management style that I don't really have yet, my strengths and weaknesses. The types of sports or activities I'd like to coach. I wish people didn't insist on asking me what sports I can teach. Apparently, most schools do NOT have varsity unicycling. Try not to be sarcastic.
  7. Aftermath. Tell myself and others that the interview went well. In reality, have no idea because no matter what everyone just smiles at me. Not sure if that means my answers are good or my naivete is disarming.
  8. Drive. again. As fast as possible.
  9. Repeat 3-7 or be home. Feel guilty for not spending more time with the cats, buy them fancy feather toys to compensate.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I'm just going to put this right here so I don't forget about it.

Ridiculousness of Online Dating

I wanted to share some of the more ridiculous interactions that I've had via OKCupid. I've had my profile on there since January or so. Not much useful has come of it. Pretty much all of these are from people who contacted me first. Most did not receive return correspondence. Also, I'm not going to bother putting [sic] on the end of all of these. They are quoted as sent to me.

From a guy whose profile features an out-of-focus headshot, wearing a Lakers cap:
                  hi hey whats up cute pic how are you doing to night.

From someone who also "no longer has an account" and apparently was unwilling to state what, exactly, he thought made us such a compelling match
                 you have the prettiest smile and i love your profile and i think we have a lot in common and love and talk and get to know you better. 

From someone who tried to make a case about why we would be a good match, this is an excerpt
                  I Day dream about stuff like " what if i had the power to turn everything into candy... " or " what if i could win at everything forever? "

From someone with a profile picture of only his abdominals
                  cute pics doc :)  (NB: my screen name is Doctor Atreides)
                  me: Thank you for validating my existence.
                  i hope i did more than validate it, lol

From Ignacio
                  hi my name is Ignacio
As someone I told about that one responded, "Doesn't that make you want to know more!" No, no it doesn't.

From someone who may have a weak command of the language
                  hi i saw your profile and it's nice and very nice pics of ya 

From someone with an odd vetting process
message title: You kindle reading faggot
message content: I ride a unicycle, btw.  
my response: I'm glad to hear that you ride a unicycle, but I have to say that introducing this message with "You kindle reading faggot" is perhaps not your strongest opening move. .
him: Kindle reading nigger?
me: Hey guy, don't talk to me.
him: You're a 92% match, I had to gauge your sense of humor.

I guess I failed that test.

From someone who wants to read the Holy Quran in its original language
                  Hey how are u? I read ur profile, and u have a lot going on I respect that.. the thing that caught my eye is u kno arabic Bcuz I need to learn it so I can read the Holy Quran in its original language.. if u can help me or would like to get to kno me better go ahead and respond an we'll take it from there.. 

From someone who uses hyperbole
                  hi most sexyy girll l have ever seen

From someone who also thinks I'm attractive
                  U are so cute.
                  Are u down to chat?

 And finally my personal favorite,
From someone who  "no longer has an account"
                  What should i do to make you crazy about me ?

California Geography

Having now driven around quite a bit for job interviews, I am more familiar with California geography than I ever thought I would be, than I ever really wanted to be.

My dad seems to know just about every route and alternate route and backroad in the state. I used to think that he was some kind of logistics savant (he may be that still), or something, but now I realize he knows so much because he has driven everywhere. Twice. For my most recent journey, I was driving to northern California (Willits, specifically) and I mentioned I was trying to beat the traffic on the 210 by leaving early. "You're not leaving early enough for that," he told me, "you should take the 138 to Lancaster..." what then followed was an extremely specific set of instructions, whose accuracy was, in fact, corroborated by Google maps. "This part of the 138 is called Pear Blossom Highway. It passes through some weird town, Little Rock, I think." I was not sure why he had so much information about the middle of the god damn desert, but I decided to roll with it.

The thing about taking a back road, especially one that snakes through the desert, is that you're never sure it's going to work out until you get to the end of it. It just seems like you're driving into oblivion. Like if the world were flat you might drive off the side of it without noticing, scrub brush and the odd Joshua Tree seeing you off. But of course, this is what makes it a viable alternate route: there are no people. I know I'm not in the middle of nowhere on the 210 because it's so full of people. But then again, it's so full of people.

So my job interview was in Willits this time. I drove up to Ukiah (about 25 miles south of Willits) and spent the night there on Thursday. Friday afternoon I had a lesson demonstration--for actual students on the last Friday of the school year. Nice--and interview. I didn't get out of town til around 4P.M., but I drove the whole day home that day anyway. Normally, when driving to that part of the state, one goes through Oakland, but I knew at that time of day it would be a bad idea. So, I decided to go via yet another less-traveled road. I took the 20, which links up the 101 and the 5, and I spent about 40 minutes driving right next to a giant lake, I looked it up later and found out that it's called Clear Lake.

I've applied to so many jobs, over 200 now, and most of the time, I don't even look up where they are, I just apply because I'm so desperate for work. So, driving through the state I'm seeing all these town names that I recognize for putting in applications. I found myself saying things like "Oh, so that's where Elk Grove is," on my drive back.

I really hope I get a job soon because I can't keep experiencing geography at this rate.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thoughts on things students ask me; an unofficial diagnosis

As it is probably known by readers of this blog (such as they are), I have a tattoo on my wrist. It's Arabic. It says "الحياة جميلة" and that translates to "Life is beautiful." This is an aspirational statement on my part. I acknowledge that life is not always beautiful, but I would like it to be and it's a good goal. It's good for me to keep in mind. The weird thing is that a surprising number of people, students/young people especially, ask me if it's my name. I don't know why anyone would tattoo themselves with their own name. In case you forget it? Preparing for traumatic brain injury and the possible amnesia that follows? Because your name is just so cool that you can think of no other words to eclipse its awesomeness? It's such a weird thing to ask. I really don't know why that's the go-to guess.

Students and children at circus also ask my age fairly often, which doesn't bother me. However, there seems to be a class of people who, when I state that I am in my mid 20s, follow up with "Why aren't you married?" or an equivalent (do you have a boyfriend? don't you want to get married?). If I say that I'm not married sometimes they'll even go on to say "but don't you want kids?" I think this may just be a cultural divide, usually when I get this question it's from people who weren't born in the US or whose parents weren't, but I somewhat resent the expectation that at 25 I should be married and making some babies already!

An unofficial diagnosis.
It was suggested to me that I have Asperger's syndrome by someone whose opinion I value and I decided to look into it. For the uninitiated, Asperger's syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder on the high functioning end of the spectrum. People with Asperger's (Aspies, as they seem to be affectionately called) experience distress and difficulty with socializing. They (we, I suppose) have strict routines and devotion to their own narrow interests. Most of the people diagnosed with this are men. The more intelligent you are, the less likely you are to be diagnosed. Apparently, most psychologists are not very good at spotting this unless they are experts in autism.

Here is a list of traits for women with Asperger's.
I read this and sort of freaked out because I have essentially all of these traits. So then I bought three books about it, obviously. I won't go into the specifics, but reading about Asperger's has made me almost 100% certain that I have it. I felt weird about it at first. Somewhat relieved, but also distressed. A number of friends reminded me that I am still the same person and I appreciate their support with this. In the last month or so, I've been letting this simmer in my brain and I'm comfortable enough to make it public (such as 6 people reading my blog can be public) on the internet.

I am somewhat on the fence about pursuing formal diagnosis. I'm pretty settled on this in my mind. Getting a diagnosis of Asperger's as an adult means finding a specialist. Inevitably, one's parents are interviewed, which is something I would like to avoid at this juncture (they're not really in the loop on this). Also, I'm worried taht with a diagnosis I might have trouble getting insurance because this would be counted as a pre-existing condition. 

I am feeling better about this now. As long-time readers may recall, I periodically feel like I'm going insane and I wonder what the hell is wrong with me and why I am not like other people. I feel that this explains it rather neatly. I am not a crazy person. I have Asperger's. I experience things differently. Knowing this helps me order things that have happened in my life and make some sense out of some of the bad parts. Some of the good parts also, I suppose. I feel like now I have a clearer idea of what makes me feel crazy and what I can do about it, which is really positive because I've never felt that way before.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In which I feel shallow

Considering that I'm kind of awkward in person, and I don't know where to find people anyway, I've been trying to meet interesting people on the internet. I've talked to a few interesting people, which is pretty alright. I want to meet friends or potential boyfriends. But it seems like whenever I talk to dudes from the internet, they are only interested in the more-than-friends part. So, that's downer number one, since I just want someone to chill out with.

Secondly, I have become increasingly aware that I really am only attracted to skinny dudes. The downside of the internet is, depending on where you find people, you don't know what they look like right away. I really feel like an asshole when a guy seems cool, but then I'm just not attracted to him. I'd rather tell a guy I'm not attracted to him then drag it out, but I still kind of feel like a jerk. Like, if only I were less shallow, I wouldn't have these problems. I just like what I like though.

The effect of this is not great on my self image. I'm starting to feel that if I want skinny dudes to be attracted to me, then I should be skinnier. This is totally the wrong reason to lose weight. I should be losing weight to be more bad ass, if anything.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts on Suburbia

Today I was reminded of the profound oddness of seeing people on the streets of suburbia. Rather, the profound oddness of seeing certain types of people. Here are some types of people that one expects to see: women running in the morning, people walking dogs, parents walking children to school, teenagers with skateboards. I was driving to the store this evening and I saw a guy just standing on a corner. My initial reaction was to find it weird, then, of course, I remembered that it's totally normal to be on the street; it's a public space. I think that suburban people are only found on the streets to do something like run for exercise. They don't walk around as transit, They do not convene in public. Suburban affairs are conducted in doors. Past 7 o'clock or so, most of the people are in their houses, with no intention to leave.

Last week, I saw a couple of boys riding bikes around, with a van following them very slowly. It took me a moment of reflection to realize that driving the car, was the children's parent. Gods forbid one would actually ride a bike with one's children! It was difficult to fathom the depths of this man's ridiculousness. You can't even ride around a little bit with your kids?

Fucking suburbia. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

In which there are even more dinosaurs

Because they make me chuckle, here are some more of my dinosaurs. Click for larger.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My New Hobby

My master teacher has a super smart 7 year old daughter who is currently obsessed with dinosaurs. Yesterday, I was demonstrating my MS Paint wizardry to my master teacher, so I decided to use a dinosaur picture from the internet to explain how things are done. This resulted in an ankylosaurus with a painted on smiley face, which I saved and she later showed to her daughter. Her daughter thinks it's the best thing she's ever seen, so I started making more of them, both for her amusement and mine. Here are some I made today, presented for your consideration.

In other topics, I had a girl from my high level ESL class today ask me if she sounded stupid; she told me to "be honest." We talked about it for a few minutes and I put it together that she is concerned that when she speaks in English, she doesn't sound as smart as she feels in her head. My immediate reaction was that's exactly how I feel when I speak Spanish. She asked me if she could do some non-classwork writing and have me look at it and read outloud and have me help with her pronunciation. I agreed of course, but then added the caveat that she has to do the same for me in Spanish. This should be awesome. 

I made the mistake of mentioning the circus in 5th period today. Those kids went totally nuts over it. Lesson learned.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

In Which I Learn Things about Myself (also teaching)

Thing the first: I don't think I can teach in a very low level class. I lack the ability to break things down beyond what I feel are their most basic components. There are only so many ways I can explain a thing and if you can't get it after that, I can't help you. This is tricky for me because, for many things, I pick them up without great difficulty. I can't make parts of speech any simpler than "types or categories of words." Just not gonna happen. My master teacher says that it's good to know this about oneself. This is why I'm not in elementary schools. I should probably teach AP classes.

Related to this is the matter of vocabulary. I have spent a great amount of time cultivating my English vocabulary. I enjoy having just the right word for just the right situation. When working with ELD and low performing students, I can't use my full range of language because no one will know what the hell I'm talking about. In my first period, I was reading an essay about poetry slams to them and it had a bit that was the main point of poetry slam. I was describing this and the only words I could think of were "manifesto" and "creed." That's great except those words have zero meaning to these kids. It's frustrating.

Thing the second: I am extremely hard on myself/I lack self-confidence. Also, I'm really stressed out about everything. Unfortunately, being aware of one's issues is not the equivalent of fixing or not having issues. Even my student teaching supervisor, who I've talked to all of four times, said that I'm being too hard on myself. Well, if I knew how to be easy, or just regular, on myself, I would do it. I'm pretty sure I'm suffering from Impostor Syndrome. Uhm, yay? I wish I had any idea how to deal with this. It's kind of fucking me up because I'm so unwilling to talk myself up that I'm botching employment opportunities. But I feel like I'm lying when I say I'm good at things, so it's really hard to know what to do.

Thing the third: my master teacher has a 7 year old daughter who is really smart and I am kind of the adult version of her kid so we're kind of giving each other insights about that. My master teacher pointed out to me today that part of what messes me up is what when I'm faced with a choice, I see 400 options or courses of action, whereas a normal person sees maybe two. So I get overwhelmed, can't decide and sometimes go in a completely different direction. I do really well when someone narrows it down for me a little bit. I mentioned to her that I had no idea what I was doing in resume and cover letter writing, and she pointed me in the right direction and I was able to fix it immediately. But when there's too much choice, I am ruined.

Otherwise I am really enjoying student teaching. I am feeling a bit less shy about it now so I am being more normal/goofy. I think I have a pretty good rapport with the kids, which is great. I've realized that my favorite teaching game is password (put a word on the board, a student in front of the board, and the other students have to get the first student to figure out the word). I also like putting the "confetti" text effects from MS Word on things because it amuses me (and also the students).

I've been busting my ass to get a job. I think I've applied for like 70+ positions now. I hope I get something. I've also started applying for some non-teaching jobs. I want to work with information, either as a teacher, librarian or archivist of some sort. So, I've been looking up major university libraries and applying to some jobs there. Something will work out.