All about me

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I was fresh out of college and had just completed my student teaching at an excellently rated suburban high school within a close-knit community. During my student teaching experience, I had technology and resources and administrative support! The kids thought I was cool (in a nerdy way)! They did their homework (most of the time)! I created these awesomely creative projects! I was officially the best English teacher ever (seriously a student gave me a mug on my last day to prove it)I was so ready to go out into the world and SAVE ALL THE CHILDREN BY FOSTERING IN THEM A LOVE FOR THE WRITTEN WORD!

Shortly after I finished my student teaching, I stumbled upon an English teaching position that was posted for a local charter school. I remember thinking, “Wow, there are a lot of charter school positions open! Whoever said that there were no teaching jobs out there was full of it.” I knew I was going to be “working with a different student population” than I had been during my student teaching experience. But, I mean, I’d watched Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers. How hard could it be?

After my first day, I quickly realized why there were so many charter school job vacancies. To put it bluntly, it was rough. I could tell you story after story about the fights I witnessed and the verbal abuse I experienced and the lack of administrative support I was up against. Honestly, my skin simply wasn’t thick enough nor my heart hard enough.  I had students from broken (more like shattered into oblivion) homes, students who were literally homeless, students who were fifteen and pregnant, students who came to school hungry.

Yet, I was supposed to make them give two shits about A Tale of Two Cities and proper MLA citation? I was supposed to prepare them for state testing? It all felt like some sort of cruel joke that I wasn’t in on. These kids needed so much more than I was capable of giving them. I drove home crying many days. Sometimes, I drove to school crying.

The day I decided I was going to finally give my two weeks notice, a particularly volatile young man in the 11th grade threatened me. “Man” is definitely the best way to describe him. He was at least two heads taller than me. He pushed a desk over and had to be escorted out of my classroom by school security. I was visibly shaken. This student had not liked me from the beginning. Maybe I reminded him of someone in his life who had hurt him. I had tried everything and failed to gain his trust. It destroyed me and I knew I couldn’t handle anymore of the stress or anxiety.

So, I gave up. I did. I quit mid-year and it was one of the most selfish things I have ever done. I left them. Because I couldn’t do it. I felt like I was doing them as well as myself a disservice by staying. But, honestly, I just couldn’t handle it. My heart hurt too much every day when I got home.

That is not to say that I didn’t experience moments of brightness. My students touched me in ways that I still am figuring out. They were so resilient. They opened me up to an entire world that I’d heard existed. However, to see it first hand is an entirely different story. Teaching also taught me a lot about myself as a person. It revealed both positive and negative qualities within myself.

I still stay in touch with some of my students. I had one of my seniors who is now attending college message me recently on Facebook to tell me that they were reading and discussing a book  that we had read together in class. She told me she felt confident and thanked me for preparing her. I teared up.

Would I go back? I never say never. I could see myself— years down the road—- going back. Sometimes, I miss it so much. But, right now, I’m just thankful for the experience and all that it taught me about myself.

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There’s no hiding my love for the written word. Books have an uncanny ability to pull at my heart strings. Although this is not necessarily a complete list, I have chosen ten books that have changed me for one reason or another. They may not all be great works of literature; however, they all came into my life at the perfect time & served a purpose. I could write paragraphs on each of these books. But, I won’t do that. Not yet anyways. I’ll just list them. What books have changed you? I’d love to know.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  5. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  6. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  7. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
  8. About a Boy by Nick Hornby
  9. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  10. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


You know all those crazy fancy nail tutorials you constantly see all over Pinterest & the blog world? Well, I decided to finally try one instead of simply staring at them in open-mouthed amazement. I used Keiko Lynn's "Moon River Manicure" tutorial & I'm beyond pleased with the results! The secret to the clean lines are those round reinforcement labels that I don't think anybody really ever uses (except for sweet manicures, of course). You can buy them  anywhere office supplies are sold. I'm not going to go through a long tutorial because Keiko Lynn's is already amazing & needs no improvements.

Here are few tips I'm going to keep in mind the next time, though:

  • A base coat & a top coat are essential to getting your nails looking much more polished & finished at the end.
  • Make sure the first coat is completely dry before putting the reinforcement labels on them or else it gets messy.
  • Make sure to peel off the labels before the polish dries-- which means doing them one at time (it really doesn't take very long).

Let me know if you try this tutorial yourself! Seriously, if I can do it & make it look half decent, anyone can!

{EDIT: Looking at this picture of my little ampersand tattoo made me realize how badly it needs touched up. So, please ignore how wonky it looks in this picture. Perhaps this is just the motivation I need to actually grow a pair & get the retouch done! Alright, carry on.}

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One of my favorite things about our apartment is our lovely patio overlooking downtown. Yeah, it's probably seen better days & needs a little work (ahem! landlord, if you're reading this, I'm looking at you). But, I still love it to pieces. It's our tiny slice of the outdoors in the heart of the city. It's no yard, but we're doing the best with what we've got. So, we finally got around to buying a proper (albeit inexpensive) patio set & have been trying our hand at gardening this summer!

Our first attempt was a bit of a failure. We didn't do our research and ended up buying the wrong  kind of flowers for the amount of sunlight we get. The issue is that our patio gets full sun basically all day long. So, our poor little flowers fried. This time around, we decided to ditch the flowers. Instead, we bought some herbs and a couple tomato plants! I'm eager to see how they do on our patio. I'll definitely keep you posted!

Do any of you with a green thumb have any tips on patio gardening? Any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated!

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I saw this amazing blog project originally on Erin Loechner's blog. I followed the link & read Ez's blog on Creature Comforts. I immediately felt humbled & inspired by how brave all of these individuals were. I'm not very good at writing about my feelings. My boyfriend would find this ironic because I always like talking to him about my deepest thoughts (he's such a patient guy). But, my fears are private & generally heard only by my closest confidants. The internet seems like such a scary place to expose yourself. However, with the staggering number of individuals who were willing to respond, I thought I'd like to share as well. Better late than never, right?

So, here are some things I'm afraid to tell you:

1. I was brought up in a fairly conservative home. My family went to church every Sunday & are still deeply saturated in their faith. But, I always felt like a sort of black sheep. They didn't treat me differently. I adore my family & have never felt as though they labeled me the "black sheep". It was something within myself; something I couldn't put my finger on. I never quite fit in at church. I just never felt comfortable when I was there. Now, I'm not going to church. I know it hurts my family & I know they worry about me. I will say that I still believe in God, but I don't know if that means I have to go to church every Sunday to a place that makes me feel really, really awful inside. Basically, I just am admitting that I don't know. And, not knowing scares me.

 2. On a work-related note, I often fear that my students will be woefully unprepared for life after they graduate from high school. Certainly, as their English teacher, I know that I am not solely responsible for their success once they go out into the real world. However, I can't help but fear that I haven't done enough. It's something I worry about quite a lot actually.

3. I have body image issues. I've never been able to look in the mirror & feel good. I am an average size & have never rocked a two-piece swimsuit in public. When I go places, I see woman larger than me wearing two-pieces & looking just fine! But, I know I could never do it. It's something inside my head that keeps telling me I'm too big & that everyone will stare. I fear that I'll never be able to accept my body as it is & celebrate being a woman. I fear that I'll try my whole life to get to a certain weight & never be satisfied.

4. I fear failure. More than mostly anything else. I fear not accomplishing anything noteworthy in my life. I want to write a book.  I've always wanted to. However, I haven't really done anything toward this goal & I don't think I will accomplish it. Honestly, I'm too afraid to try because, if I fail, then what? I have to admit to myself I'm not good enough? That's freaking terrifying. I'd rather not try than fail.

5. I often look around my apartment & feel disgusted. Honestly, I've done pretty well with my income. I have a nice flat-screen TV, cable, internet, decent furniture, & I've decorated it fairly well. But, I'm often not satisfied. When I look around my apartment, I see the clutter, the pet hair, & the laundry that is very rarely put where it should be. I feel shallow because I worry so much about what my place looks like. I want it to look like the magazines & the blog photos. I know it never will. I wonder if anyone's home actually looks like that.

Wow. That was extremely cathartic. I am very tempted to just delete this entire post. Pushing the "publish" button is much harder than I expected. I also realize that, compared to some of the other posts I've read, my "fears" might seem shallow. But, that's alright. I'm hoping you won't judge me too harshly. If you want to join in, leave a link to your post below.

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I literally stumbled upon Yum! Cupcakes today while I was out running some errands & I knew I had to stop in for a cupcake. I mean, how can you pass up such an adorable looking place? So, in the summer spirit of exploring new places, I promptly turned my car around, parked, & went inside.

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I am so glad that I did! I was a little too shy to take any pictures inside, but it was such a cute place. The friendly woman at the counter explained all the different flavors, but I already eyed out my perfect cupcake. It was one of their special flavors for the day-- a Red Velvet Cupcake with a candy raspberry lovingly placed on top. UM. YES, PLEASE. The woman told me that, if I wasn't going to eat it right away, I should refrigerate it. I smiled & said okay. Little did she know, it wouldn't even make it out of their parking lot! Unfortunately, it looks a little messy in the picture above because I accidentally flipped the box upside down before opening it. Silly me. But, let me assure you, it was still absolutely DELICIOUS. Check out their website for all their delightful creations. It's definitely worth of stop if you're in the Cincinnati area! They're also only $2 which (although I'm no cupcake expect) I think is pretty fairly priced.

When was the last time you were surprised by a hidden gem in your own city? Isn't is just the best?

Yum! Gourmet Cupcakes and More on Urbanspoon

 

Before I begin, I just want you to know that I am the opposite of crafty. So, when I saw this tutorial for how to make a a workout shirt (with no sewing involved!) on Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth's blog, I didn't think I'd be able to do it! But, I DID it! I wish I would have taken a before picture of the t-shirt. It was just some old t-shirt that I never wore. I didn't want to start with a nice t-shirt in case I messed up royally. But, it turned out so cute! I plan on going to the thrift store to find some cheap t-shirts & do it to several more in the future. It's perfect for working out. All I have to say is that if I can do this, any of you can! Below is the t-shirt from Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth's blog. She has step-by-step directions that make it really easy. If you try it, let me know how it works out!

(Above image & tutorial via Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth.)

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The coveted summer break is upon us! For teachers across the country, this time of the year is better than Christmas. Honestly, when I was in school, I had no idea that my teachers were as excited about summer break as I was. Now, I'm faced with almost two months to do whatever I please! It's absolutely an amazing perk of the job. Last year, I signed up to teach summer school. This year, I decided to really treat myself & not get a summer job. Certainly, my pocketbook is a little upset; however, I think my mental health will thank me ten times over! Now, what should I do with all this luxurious  freedom? It's sort of a double-edged sword. I have all this free time to travel & experience new things, BUT I also still have a teacher's salary to work with. Oh, the irony!

With that being said, here are a few (simple) plans I have for myself over the summer:

  • Spending more time with the cutie above! My nephew, Elijah, is getting bigger & bigger every day. I babysat him for the first time a few weeks ago & I realized what an exhausting thing it is to be a mother. I gained so much respect for my amazing sister & mothers everywhere.  don't know how you do it, but you have my eternal admiration!
  • Reconnecting with friends & family. I admit, I've been a bad friend. During the school year, I get tunnel vision. It's hard, as a teacher, to find that balance between my work & my personal life. This summer, I hope to reconnect with my friends/family & beg them to forgiv my hermit tendencies.
  • Step up my work out routine. Yeeeah. So, I haven't exactly been running every day like I said I would. I really need to use these months to get fit & focus on developing a routine that I can continue to follow once school starts again. Perhaps I will make a post (or two or three) in regards to my steps to really get healthy? We shall see!
  • Read voraciously! I'm already on it! I just finished reading Veronica Roth's Divergent. It's another dystopian young adult three-book series (The Hunger Games, anyone?). I was skeptical, I admit. It didn't draw me in quite as much as The Hunger Games did. However, I'm frantically trying to get my hands on the second book. So, that's a good sign! Recommend books to me, please!
  • Ride a bike (with confidence). This is embarrassing to admit, but I've actually always been mildly afraid of riding a bike. When I was a kid, it took me a bit longer than my other friends to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. It's shameful to be the last of your friends to still have the training wheels on their bike, right? Since then, I've always been slightly apprehensive on those two wheels. This summer, I want to buy a bike & master riding it around my beautiful city!
  • Swim, swim, swim, swim, swim! I think I'm buying a pass to Coney Island. Their Sunlite pool is calling my name! Plus, I'll get to wear my cute, new swimsuit! Win!

 

Those are just some of the things I plan on doing with my time! Certainly, I will be sharing all my other spontaneous adventures with you as they happen. If you had a couple months to do whatever you pleased (on a budget!), what are some things you'd have on your to-do list? Please share!

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One topic I've never really discussed on this blog is my life as an English teacher. Mostly because I'm afraid to say much  because teachers have to make sure to keep private & personal lives separate. However, I've gotten a few questions about what it's like to be a teacher, so I thought I'd touch on it a little bit. After all, it is a huge part of my life & who I have become over the past two & a half years.

I teach high school English to 10th, 11th, & 12th graders at a local charter school. Teaching is both an exhausting & exhilarating career choice. Those of you teachers out there know exactly what I'm talking about. Every day is different than the one before which I LOVE.  However, it's not glamorous nor is it easy. Yes, we get summers off but we fully make up for that with the amount of "over time" we put in planning, grading, & simply worrying about our students after school hours & over the weekend. I love my life & my students, but there are many days where I just want throw my hands up in the air & give up. As a young teacher, I especially feel that teaching must be a passion of yours. There's some insane statistic that shows the percentage of new teachers that quit within the first five years is staggering. I don't find that difficult to believe. It's an emotional roller coaster that has caused me to put my head on my desk crying on multiple occasions. The truth of the matter: it's really freaking hard being a teacher.

I come from a family of teachers. My mother was actually my elementary school principal growing up (you guessed it-- I never got sent to the principal's office). My sister is a second grade teacher. As a teenager & up until graduation, I wanted nothing to do with teaching. However, after dabbling with a more creative major (photography), I realized it was no use fighting what fate had clearly already set before me. Now, I can't imagine doing anything else. It's one of the most fulfilling professions.

The students are the best part. They are the reason teachers stay. I'm not going to lie, I've come close to quitting before. However, I didn't because of my students. It's quite phenomenal how attached you can get to them. I work at a small charter school & am lucky enough to have a tight-knit group of kids that I get to really connect with. They are so freaking cool. I am continuously blown away by just how amazing they are. They've taught me so many things!

I know I'm leaving out so many things I want to say on this topic, but I will step off my proverbial soapbox & hope that I haven't scared too many of you away!  Don't worry. I don't plan on making this a teacher blog or anything from now on. I just wanted to share a  slice of my life that I've been keeping to myself for a while now on this blog. Also, please let me know if any of you have any other questions about teacher. I'd love to talk with you about this topic!

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Yes, it's me. Is there anyone out there still ? Who knows. I'll give it a go anyways!

I've come to a (not-so-shocking) realization. I've realized that I don't update my blog because I'm lazy nor is it because of a lack of things to share. I don't blog because I have one of the shortest attention spans of anyone that I know. If you could just listen to my inner monologue for a few minutes, you'd quickly realize what I'm talking about. Here's a sample for you:

"I can't wait for the Hunger Games movie tonight! I hope it's as good as the books. I need to read more books. I need to use the Nook that Kevin got me for Christmas. I hope he doesn't think I don't like it. I hope we can get good seats at the theater. I wonder if I should wear shorts or pants. I need more shorts for summer. I can't wait for summer. I want to go on a cruise or something!"

That it is all to say, I finally GET why I'm not an A+ blogger! And, you know what? That's okay! I'm going to do the best I can & if people what to listen to me, let them. If not, that's alright too! So, this past week was my Spring Break! Another time I remember one of the awesome perks of being a teacher (apart from the whole preparing the nation for its future leaders -- blah blah blah). I have been very productive over my break. I did ALL my laundry which is pretty much something that should go into the history books. I've done a lot of spring cleaning, patio gardening planning, & also just straight up chilling. Here are some pictures to prove I'm alive & well!

I bought a new dress! Please excuse the blurriness. My boyfriend has shaky camera hands.

I'm taking a pottery class at a local art center with some teacher friends.
This is my first batch of completely finished & glazed pots. I'm (more than a little) proud of myself.

We got a new patio set for the balcony. It's so stinkin' cute. I also have plans to make a pallet garden. I've already "rescued" a pallet from the back parking lot of my local grocery store.

 

Stumbling upon murals & small parks such as this one around my city is the exact reason why I love where I love so much! People may talk crap about Cincinnati, but there are so many hidden gems if you are willing to do a little exploring!

To those of you readers who can stomach my spastic blogging, you get mad props from me! Enjoy your Saturday!