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Japan!

Just got this email. It made me so happy!
Hello
I am Naoko Doyama.
I got your letter last week.
Thank you so much.

I live in old Japanese traditional house.
And I live with my husband, my real father and mother.
Father and Mother is so shy and they are old.
So I wonder if you feel bad...


I have a question.
Do you like Japanese food?
Do you like Japanese hot spring?
I am planning now on 1st July.
Let me know what you want to eat and to do.


I am so happy to meet you!
We are waiting for you!!
Please have a safe trip to Japan!
See you.

Naoko Doyama
Your homestay host


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

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The "Pause Before You Post" campaign

 HI. Here are a few things about not having facebook and twitter in my life this week:

-it's not as big a deal as I thought it might be. This is a relief.

-HOWEVER, I realize that I do those things to keep myself from remembering that I'm kind of lonely every once in a while over here in my babe lair. (Babe lair! HA!) But I do have email and texting and phone calls and hey! LJ.

-Habitual times for twitter checks: walking away from school and as soon as I get home, over solo dinners, and before I go to sleep. Those are the only times I've felt a hole in my life.

-My brain's calmer. I have to deal with other people's words all day long. I really don't need any more to deal with.

-However, I wanted to tell you all a few things throughout the day and didn't. They were unnecessary and forgettable, as it turns out. One thing was about shopping for prom decorations, I think.

-I am glad for this excuse to not be caught up on twitter. I am OCD about being caught up. I don't think I've missed a tweet since I signed up. I'm the same way about reading all of my emails asap. 

-Unrelated, but I'm mightily stressed out this week. Way too many things going in addition to trying to wrangle a bunch of 9th graders who don't feel the urgency I feel for them that THEY'RE GOING TO FAIL MY CLASS IF THEY DON'T GET THEIR ACTS TOGETHER!!! I really really hate failing kids. I honestly generally feel like a lot of it is my fault and the fault of the faulty public school system that I am knocking myself out to support and ALSO, they're SO FREAKING ANNOYING. Sometimes. Like today. They're also awfully charming a lot of the time, so there you go. I think I'm going to blame a lot of the terrible shape they're in on Student Teacher. He threw everything off.
 
When my sentence structure goes haywire like it just did, you can tell it's teacherbedtime.
 
PS-I'm developing an obsession with vikings. Not just because of Eric Northman or the time traveling viking book, but also because I keep meeting up with them in my history teaching research and not quite knowing how to proceed AND because my 23andMe says I'm from Lappland AND because theirs is a very old, fierce white people culture and we need a fierce culture to hail from too, in my opinion. 
 
So sleepy.

quickly chosen 2010 photo faves

Here are my favorite pictures of 2010, for different reasons.
Keeping it simple.

1. Be a half-time Vegetarian
Starting with 2 days a week, and then working up to more days.

2. Take piano lessons all year

3. Save $5 a day, 5 days a week
For my credit card, because there won’t be any more National Boards money. Gonna think of ways to get creative.

4. Read or discard the books in my apartment before I buy a Kindle. There will be some cataloging.

5. Stay positive. Keep track.

First, to recap.

Last Year's Resolutions and Reflections:

1. Figure out what my first post-teaching steps will be, and do as much as I can now to build momentum.

I decided to keep teaching and add new things along the way. Like being on the board of the WSCSS. Therapy seriously helped me trust myself. I will know what to do when the time comes. And I will never be complacent. And I am a very good teacher and I think teaching AVID is the most meaningful thing I do, and so, HHS for another 4 years, y'all!

2. Travel far away. Turkey? The Deep South?

Hey! New Orleans! Woo!

3. 30 minutes on the elliptical machine.

Nope. Got to 20 before the summer, when I lost my groove. Then I hurt my back and haven't worked out in months and it's sucky.

4. Rock out in my classroom as much as humanly possible. That means authenticity, interesting challenges, meaty questions, multi-sensory experiences, great planning, reflection, helping the students choose their own adventures, paying super close attention to what seems to be happening in their brains, and lots and lots and lots and lots of fun. It also means that I have to be healthy and rested so that the creative juices can flow and I have energy to nurture and observe.

Check. I figured out a whole new way to grade, took kids to the SAM twice, used a lot more music, and have way more one on one conferencing time, mostly thanks to my teaching coach Mary, who recovered from cancer this year!

5. Secret Resolution #1, which won't be secret in a few months

Shower for Niko! Check. Still need to put that book together though. If you haven't written him letters yet, send them to me! It's not too late. (sheepish grin)

6. Secret Resolution #2

I don't remember what this was!

7. Deliberately dress myself at least 75% of the time. I am such a default outfit kinda girl. LAZY!

Definitely improved, especially regarding teacher clothes. I have fewer outfits, but I like them more.

8. Don't use my credit card except for health/car/family emergencies. Up the payments.

Check! This is my greatest accomplishment, I think. I used most of my National Board bonus to pay off half of my credit card debt. And now I don't have a bonus, but I will address that in a later, resolution post.

9. Hide my light under a bushel? OH NO! I'ma let it shine.

Um, maybe? I was waaaaaay more reclusive this year, but that meant that when I was out in the world, I was ready to be there. I also decided to use my peacekeeping skills to be the department chair, which seems to be working out just fine, despite my early October panic. I'm not quite sure what I meant by this one, anyway.

All in all, a pretty successful year.
Whoah, apartment therapy. Suddenly, I have thousands of things to get rid of. These are things I thought I wanted until about two hours ago. Josh and I recently took a whole pickup truck full of my stuff to the Value Village, and I could fill another two! It feels so good! I am hereby turning my back on a legacy of Tarvin/Halladay pack rat habits! You should see the homes of my elders. Actually, you shouldn't. It's safer if you just imagine them. Walls crammed with junk. Dust collecting on everything. Piles on piles on piles of stuff that hasn't moved in years. There is not a single tidy dweller on either side of my family, come to think of it, except for my mom when she's feeling out of control. So, I'm trying.

Meanwhile, regarding the song showdown, I think that I am going to bring Good Vibrations and Try a Little Tenderness to the institute, and then follow my heart in the moment. These songs make sense because they were both absolutely formative. And maybe every other song I've ever loved can trace its roots back to one or both of these songs. They're symphonic.


Try a Little Tenderness taught me what soul was, and what I was going to need when I got weary one day.

No video, but here's a recording of Good Vibrations, just in case you haven't heard it in a while.

Back to my therapy sesh.

Summer Song Showdown, round three

I know you are all waiting with bated breath.

Round three:
good vibrations (beach boys)
don't you worry 'bout a thing (stevie)
i feel it all (feist)
green light (jamie lidell)
try a little tenderness (otis)
blackbird (beatles)

The hardest decision so far was between butterfly's day out from appalachia waltz (yo yo ma, edgar meyer, and mark o'connor are geniuses and back in the days when i used to imagine my wedding, this was the song i wanted to walk down the aisle to. you must listen to it) and blackbird. But blackbird has made me cry a lot more, so it won.

On to "creating a landing strip" from "week three" (aka-day three) of Apartment Therapy.

Summer Song Showdown

Besides Apartment Therapy, my other current occupation is choosing the ONE "meaningful" song I am going to use to introduce myself to the other teachers at the Dvorak institute. This is actual homework. I have consulted many people about this predicament, and our pal Ed Potatoes DJ O'Brien recommended creating a bracket for all of the songs I'm considering, and then making them compete each other. Songs are very competitive things. It's all I can do to keep them from trying to bribe me, and they keep accusing each other of doping.

Things I've noticed so far: This group is far sweeter than my normal listening habits, which are edgier. This is because I am sweet to the core, and only edgy at my edges. Also, the ones that make me feel the deepest are the ones that try to comfort me. Music takes care of me. Finally, these songs are mostly old. Because I like old things.

(I wish I could draw a bracket directly in LJ, but this will have to do)

Summer Song Showdown, Rounds 1 and 2
(round 1)
1. good vibrations (beach boys)
(round 2)
good vibrations (beach boys)
2. i've just seen a face (beatles) 
3. waterloo (abba)living for the city (stevie wonder)
4. living for the city (stevie wonder) 
5. don't you worry 'bout a thing (stevie again)don't you worry 'bout a thing (stevie again)
6. there's too much love (belle and sebastian) 
7. don't let me lose this dream (aretha)motion movement (blue scholars)
8. motion movement (blue scholars) 
9. urge for going (darrell scott)urge for going (darrell scott)
10. carries on (edward sharpe, etc.) 
11. i feel it all (feist)i feel it all (feist)
12. extraordinary machine (fiona apple) 
13. old old fashioned (frightened rabbit)green light (jamie lidell)
14. green light (jamie lidell) 
15. be not so fearful (jeff tweedy covering bill fay)love love love (mountain goats)
16. love love love (mountain goats) 
17. don't be afraid of love (otis redding)try a little tenderness (otis again)
18. try a little tenderness (otis again) 
19. sunlight (tune yards)sunlight (tune yards)
20. what light (wilco) 
21. mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys (yes, i did. willie and waylon)butterfly's day out (from appalachia waltz)
22. butterfly's day out (from appalachia waltz) 
23. learn to live with what you are (ben folds five)blackbird (beatles)
24. blackbird (beatles again) 
Hi! I went to Sasquatch this weekend, as you may have heard. I realized this afternoon that I absorbed SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC that I am at risk of losing the taste of it if I don't record some things somewhere. Yes, the taste.

Acts that made me freak out with joy:
Tune Yards
the Tallest Man On Earth
Vampire Weekend

Acts that made me very happy:
Meyer Hawthorne (for the song and a half I heard)
Midlake
the Dirty Projectors
Public Enemy, come to think of it (I connected with my roots)
Passion Pit
LCD Soundsystem
the Local Natives
the Seattle Rock Orchestra playing the Arcade Fire's "Funeral"

Acts that I REEEEEEALLY WISH I HAD SEEN but missed because they were too early:
Caribou
Tame Impala
more than a song and a half of Meyer Hawthorne

Other impressions: I enjoy these things a lot more now that I'm old and allow myself to take it easier than I used to. It's OK to sit through things, for instance. It's also OK to stay in a hotel and leave at 6:30 on the last day in order to get home at a reasonable hour. On the other side of that coin, I had to resist about 1,980 urges to try to talk sense to teenagers.

Today's Writer's Almanac poem.

Ex-Boyfriends

by Kim Addonizio

They hang around, hitting on your friends
or else you never hear from them again.
They call when they're drunk, or finally get sober,

they're passing through town and want dinner,
they take your hand across the table, kiss you
when you come back from the bathroom.

They were your loves, your victims,
your good dogs or bad boys, and they're over
you now. one writes a book in which a woman

who sounds suspiciously like you
is the first to be sadistically dismembered
by a serial killer. They're getting married

and want you to be the first to know,
or they've been fired and need a loan,
their new girlfriend hates you,

they say they don't miss you but show up
in your dreams, calling to you from the shoeboxes
where they're buried in rows in your basement.

Some nights you find one floating into bed with you,
propped on an elbow, giving you a look
of fascination, a look that says I can't believe

I've found you
. It's the same way
your current boyfriend gazed at you last night,
before he pulled the plug on the tiny white lights

above the bed, and moved against you in the dark
broken occasionally by the faint restless arcs
of headlights from the freeway's passing trucks,

the big rigs that travel and travel,
hauling their loads between cities, warehouses,
following the familiar routes of their loneliness.

"Ex-Boyfriends" by Kim Addonizio, from What Is This Thing Called Love. © W.W. Norton, 2004.