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Friday, March 23, 2018

The Move to Newtown, PA

When we arrived in our new home, winter did not waste any time. Our first snow day was only our third home day. The moving truck still had not arrived and we'd barely gone grocery shopping, grabbing only bananas, bagels, cream cheese, and a six pack of Starbucks doubleshots. There was no stockpiling of snacks and booze and nowhere to sit besides the carpeted floor that sent static electricity through us at every step. I made a "chair" of pillows against the now-dining room wall.

"You should see if they have extra chairs in the apartment lobby! Seriously, Katie -- you guys cannot spend the whole day with nothing to sit on but the floor."

But indeed, we could. Sorry, Mom, but the only thing worse than having no seat is dragging a dusty, pool chaise lounge 300 yards in a snowstorm.

The storm stopped by dinnertime, so we bundled up our growling stomachs and speedwalked to the nearest sushi restaurant.

Since that first week, things have steadily improved. Newtown is finally feeling like home.

Here are a few pictures in and around our place, if you'd like to see...

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

LA Museums: Vol. 1 - Autry Museum of the American West

When we first moved, it took me a long time to get out of my bubble. I like to imagine myself as independent and spontaneous, but any motivation to go on solo adventures was easily squelched -- I was internet-less, smartphone-less, and occasionally car-less. 

In order to get out of the house, I had to walk to a cafe, order coffee I didn't care for, ask for a wifi password, handwrite directions, and go back to the apartment to recover from whatever awkwardness that ensued whilst at the cafe. What awkwardness, you might ask? Try walking twenty minutes before being told that the coffee shop doesn't have wifi, but only after you've already ordered a $6 decaf latte ("Really? You want decaf?" the man-bunned barista contests incredulously.). Or how about getting to the cafe only to find that the tables are the size of postage stamps and your laptop must actually rest on your lap. Or knocking over thirty dollars of potted plants with your left hip while getting up for napkins to clean up the coffee you spilled on yourself. My self-imposed ban from that place kept me away for a good four months, but luckily we finally got internet by the end of January (another long story for another time). 

Somewhere in all of this, I managed to write down every free day for every museum within twenty miles and my first stop was the Autry Museum of the American West. Being that it was a free day, the rooms were packed with an odd blend of school groups and senior citizens. The people-watching was almost more entertaining than the exhibits, but since photographing strangers is creepy, I only have pictures of art and artifacts to share with you. Here are a few of my favorites.

A River Runs Through It by Billy Schenck, oil on canvas, 2011
Mesa Drifters by Logan Maxwell Hagege, oil on canvas, 2013
Sierra Trail by Edgar Payne, oil on canvas  

One of the best parts of the museum was the section of Western movie memorabilia and toys, but my camera battery had already died. You can thank Google images for this great rocking horse photo. 

via tripadvisor

What's your favorite museum? Do you like to go alone or in a group? Do you find school groups entertaining or obnoxious? Tell me about it in the comments! 

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Park Crawl

It doesn't seem like it, but we've officially been living in Los Angeles for over six months now. Once we moved here and Christmas passed, I was busy job searching and once I got a job mid-March, middle schoolers kept me equal parts entertained and exhausted. Now that school is out, I'm going to give my best attempt at using these newfound hours for productivity instead of extra sleep. That is, until I start teaching summer school in July...

One realm of our LA exploration that hasn't been neglected is parks -- dog parks, dog beaches, regular parks, the patch of grass next to Pop Physique that Zora tries to turn into a park every time a stick falls from a tree. You get the idea. Here's a review of Zora's stomping grounds...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

When I got my cast iron skillet for Christmas, I knew exactly what I wanted to make -- tortilla, bar-style pizza

Now I will admit that this pizza can't compete crust-wise with Smitten Kitchen's margherita pizza, but I didn't need to bother with active yeast, corn meal, or a blaring smoke alarm to get it onto the table. It is crispy, customizable, and most importantly fast. Between this and chocolate chip microwave mug cookies, my New Year's resolutions are in trouble. 

Thanks a lot, Serious Eats

Unfortunately, since getting sick earlier this month (more on that later), Zora's become an even worse beggar than usual. She's on a plain, slow-cooked chicken and white rice diet, but she's convinced she deserves the same food as us now. 

Sorry, pup. No pizza for you.

What do you make in your cast iron skillet? We've had pork chops, spinach-feta stuffed chicken, and many a fried egg. I see a skookie in our future. ;)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Tiny Christmas Tour

When I first moved into our apartment after Thanksgiving, I postponed decorating "for real" and compensated with Christmas decorations. Now that the tree, twinkle lights, and stockings are gone, I need to get down to business in the art and plant department. And buy a couch. And a bed. And a better storage solution than keeping my clothes in Amazon boxes in the closet.  

Until we have enough furniture to merit an apartment tour, here is our chalkboard before I erased it and our tree before it became a fire hazard.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Do you think before you speak?

Do you think before you speak?

I've always had a knack for over-analyzing words and actions -- particularly concerning the most minor of negative experiences. I'm ashamed to admit the hours I've spent replaying every complaint, eye roll, and piece of criticism I've been doled. Typically I expel negativity by a) venting to Tyler or b) journaling and then feeling lousy that I have a waist-high, leather-bound stack of twenty years of social anxiety. Needless to say, I'm not so thrilled with the results of these methods.

The first issue is that after being away from the high school classroom, I forgot just how talented I am at putting my foot in my mouth. Because of the nature of the job, I tend to have to think on my feet, and therefore I oftentimes wind up saying something stupid or something that could be misconstrued.

In these awkward situations, I breeze right past the chuckles and move on -- no problem. But what about those midnight realizations when I realize that have said something that has upset or offended a student? What about that sinking feeling when I've assigned an essay and I'm almost certain I forgot talk to them about conclusion paragraph structure? Or when I'm grading and start questioning the accuracy of my scoring? I taught them the difference between mood and tone, but did they actually learn? These are the silly work questions and doubts I obsess over, but with my job ending and our move coming up, I've graduated to the big worry: 

What am I doing with my life?

Spring Break 2014

When I'm feeling paralyzed with self-doubt, I feel better when I remember a piece of advice from A Cup of Jo. Here is how she describes the "Grand Canyon" trick:

"Picture that the Grand Canyon is your life--your past, present and future. Start envisioning the various parts of your life within the canyon: Over there is the day you were born, your third-grade choir performance, your job as a babysitter. Picture your present: There's your apartment, your friends, your mom, the book you're reading right now. Picture your future: There's your next vacation, the love of your life, your future children, the Top Chef finale. :) 

Now, my therapist told me, picture the enormous Grand Canyon and drop your worry into it. Whatever you're worrying about -- your cranky boss, your dating life, a salty comment from a friend -- will be barely visible. "See how tiny it looks?" she says. Suddenly your problem will seem much, much smaller in comparison to the grand course of your huge, rich, long life."

So, I pass along the Grand Canyon trick to you, in hopes that you find yourself with only rare occasion to need it. Happy November!