Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Put the needle on the record

Filed under : Fancypants Prep,Life in general,Student Life
On May 27, 2011
At 7:00 pm
Comments : 10

If you notice, this post is dated Friday, even though I wrote and posted it on Sunday. I did this because I wanted, some day in the future, to look back at the gap between my graduation day and the day I received my first job offer, and see it very clearly and visually on the little blog calendar on the right. People who have been congratulating me (and thank you! or them!) have focused on this short span and said things like, “so quick! You must be awesome!” But that’s not really how it was. I look at other lengths of time, like from when I did my first interview (late March) or when I attended my first career fair (early March) or when I sent out my first resume (February) or when I first started to seriously worry about my job prospects (spring semester 2010) or when I took the big leap and quit my job (summer 2009). I think I really use that last one more than anything, because when you quit a job with a good salary and great benefits, and when you leave it without severance or unemployment benefits, to go into a field where you think there will be jobs but who knows, well, you worry. If I’m going to be more realistic, then I’d go with late February when I first sent my application in to the New Teacher Finder for the NYC public schools (it’s still there but I somehow doubt they will be calling me). It seemed like an eternity of fear and worry to me.

My Commencement Day was just wonderful. Amazing, even. For starters, those of us without Big Life Transition Events rarely get a day where it is all about us. But beyond that, I was surrounded for the first half of the day by my cohort and some of my professors, all of whom I love dearly, and the ceremony itself was fabulous. Bob Herbert from the NY Times spoke and said great things and they called my name and my friends’ names, and I sat next to one of the funniest guys ever and he made me laugh the whole time. Then for the second I was with my family and we had a lovely dinner and I got flowers and balloons and gifts. The one downer on my day was that I was stressed about a demo lesson I had to do two days later. If you don’t know the horror of the demo lesson for new teachers (tech specialists do teach some classes even though they’re not titled as teachers), it’s this: you walk into a strange classroom with kids you don’t know and teach an entirely out of context lesson while 3-4 administrators watch you. If you’re in tech, it’s worse, because you have no idea what equipment they’ll have or what the layout is and very often, something will break (three of the kids’ PCs kept going black during my lesson, for example). But it went OK, mostly. And they don’t all. Some day when I’m over it, I’ll tell you about The Disaster. When people tell me things went so easily for me, I try not to mention The Disaster. You know that job interview that Elaine has on Seinfeld where she just gets up and says, “I have no chance, do I?” and the woman smiles broadly and says, “no” and shakes her hand? It was kind of like that. The Disaster convinced me that I am not ready quite yet for what I had planned, that is, to work in a public or charter school with kids who need the most help. But that day will hopefully come once I get more experience.

But this demo and interview did go well and I knew I had a shot, but just a shot, because, quite frankly, this school is one of the best in New York. I know this because the parents on Urban Baby, who have together built the worst, most obnoxious forum I could ever imagine (if you know me from a forum, it is worse than the one you are thinking of), even they always agree that they’d kill to get their kids in to this school. So I really have no idea how I got this job. Really. It’s not false modesty, I really just don’t know. But I’m not complaining! The school is fancee, even fancee’er than my placement school (who, by the way, liked me very much but still wouldn’t give me a job, so you can understand my amazement now) and will herein be known as Fancy Pants Prep, or FPP. I even started a new category for it! (And last time for the Student life category – I think.) Every time I wake up and realize they want to hire me or that once I sign a contract I will officially work there, I can’t stop grinning. Is it really happening? All I wanted was a job. I didn’t ask for THE job. I should say that the position is awesome for all kinds of other reasons: the people I’ve met are fab, the school is open to new technology use, and I get to be part of the community of tech people which includes the fine folks from my placement school plus lots of others.

Right now, I’m having a tough time focusing on what the job entails, because it doesn’t really start until the end of the summer. That’s right, I have the summers off! I’m not even thinking about that yet, though. I am just thinking about how lucky I am to have hit the scenario I wanted the most: to know that I have a job in three months so that I can enjoy this summer and actually do fun things. I still have my part-time (ugh) job through the end of June. Or July, but I’m saying June. I’d also like to take a class in July, since I’ll be dealing with kids younger than I really trained for. Then in August I hope to take a trip I’ve been planning for a long time, to Western Canada to see some special things and some special people. And then I come home to my new job. Yikes! Yay!

But the stuff I am focusing on is weird and surreal, too. Finally, after two years of keeping a bastardized version of my analfinance spreadsheet, I can put back the cell where the income goes, rather than calculating how much I have to pull out of savings. I can turn on the A/C and not feel bad about it. I can restart Netflix. I can order the sushi deluxe. I can buy an unlimited Metrocard. My whole mindset is shifting and each thing I remember that I can do makes me happy all over again.

The past few weeks, when there were periods of no job listings or no one responded or an interview went nowhere or I got a rejection email, I’d have dreams about going back to my old job at The Record Label. Really! Just right back to my desk as if nothing had happened. You don’t have to be Freud to get that. But I think I’ll stop having that dream. And I can unsubscribe to all my job listing feeds. And throw away my extra resumes. And hide the label “Job Search” in my Gmail. And plan. I can finally plan. For a person like me, knowing what I’m doing next month and next year is the greatest relief, even though the details will be slowly uncovered. If this were a movie, like Working Girl, they’d end it here. Girl quits unsatisfying job, drops out of rat race to go back to student life, graduates and gets prestigious job. But it isn’t really like that. It is more the end of Side 1 of the concept album (remember album sides?) and now we’ll start with Side 2. I hear it’s complex and has its ups and downs but is totally worth a listen.

Title comes from:
M|A|R|R|S – Pump Up The Volume


I will save your life

Filed under : Student Life
On May 17, 2011
At 1:00 am
Comments : 8

.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Blessed are you, Lord our God, who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this day.

This is, as my grandfather put it, a “benediction of Thanksgiving.” You say it whenever you experience something new or unusual, including the first day of a holiday or tasting something for the first time. I can’t really imagine anything newer or more unusual to me than graduating and receiving my Master’s degree, which I will do today. And I can’t feel any more grateful than I do right now that I’ve been brought to this day. You may remember that I tried my hand at this before, almost twenty years ago, and I didn’t make it. So I know it’s easy to try and yet still fail or maybe just get distracted along the way. I can’t even begin to calculate all the things I did to make it through these two years: the all-nighters, the tracking down of sources, the thousands of pages of reading, the squinting at code, the month of 9-5 classes, the chronically burnt fingers from baking, the 12 hours straight in a convention booth, the walking up and down of aisles proctoring exams, the stand-offs with weird professors, and so forth. It has all been a blur, and a generally happy one.

If you wonder why I haven’t written these few weeks, it’s because I have been too emotional to get anything down. Sometimes I would just be washing dishes and it would overwhelm me and I would cry. Tonight, I got an email that meant something to me and I cried on the 116th St. platform. It’s not sadness, it’s just huge, crushingly strong emotion of all types. I can’t believe it’s all over. And I can’t sort it out enough to write about it and that’s just the way it is. Sometimes things can’t be articulated, like the people you say goodbye to and the life you leave behind and the fear of what’s to come and the hope for a new and better future.

I thank all those people who sustained me, because when it all overcomes me, it’s the loss of the people and the life we lived together that causes the rush of strong feeling. And when it comes down to it, I think that’s what I was missing in my before-life, feeling. Right now, I feel so many things that for once in my life, a textual medium isn’t the right one.

Back in January, when I bought Deftones tickets for smack-in-the-middle of the week between finishing and actual Commencement, I thought I would be the happiest girl in the world at the show. Instead, things were a bit more complicated. Still, as usual, it enabled me to let some of all this out, and so for that I am also grateful. I guess that one goes to God and the Deftones’ booking agent.

I wish I had some pithy words to sum this all up, but all I have is this: the school advises me to wear flats to Commencement and since it’s in all probability the last piece of advice they’ll ever give me, I think I’ll take it.

Title comes from the song that made me cry during the show (the big tattooed guys near me never seem to notice this, it’s very easy to cry at Deftones concerts). It’s the song I used to listen to on the way to student teaching.
Deftones – Risk

Note: Apologies for the false post… it’s been so long since I blogged that I inadvertently hit publish instead of save about 3 lines in. Oops.

Edited to add: Oh look, someone has posted a video of the exact performance of this song I mentioned. I doubt there is even one Deftones fan who reads this blog, but here’s the link anyway. I am not in it, which is good, because the only audience you see is the mosh pit, and that would have made me cry in a whole different way.


It’s beginning to feel a lot like Commencement

Filed under : Student Life
On May 2, 2011
At 8:30 pm
Comments : 10

So, about the big news yesterday….

Of course I mean the monumental, earth-shattering, game-changing event that deserved dancing in the streets and worldwide approbation:


I’ll let that sink in for a moment. That thing hanging over my head for the last two years? Done. Finito.*

*There will be comments and I will need to do some rewrites. But still.

But this is why I’ve been away, because all my writing powers (such as there are) were dedicated to this task. In the meantime, my computer forgot the password to this site; good thing I didn’t.

I do have some more requirements, including a couple of papers, but today, for the first time, I really started to believe I’d be graduating. I even went over to the university bookstore to buy my “academic regalia.” That’s a euphemism for “gown so thin we no longer rent them because this way you can hold onto it for your next medical procedure.” But I am beyond excited to have my cap and gown and I didn’t even feel cynical when the Barnes & Noble employee said “Thank you and congratulations!” as I paid.

This is it. Now it can be told: I am between 5’3″ and 5’5″. And a Master. Or I will be a Master, once I don this thing and they hand me my diploma.

By the way, the first line of this post was originally supposed to be the title but then I imagined bots taking it away to Twitter and Facebook and people who wanted to talk about other, more death-involving events popping over here eagerly. And I hate to disappoint people. Not to mention, if you know me from any other site on the Internet, you’ve probably already discussed that with me and we’ve both had enough.

Besides, there are much more important things to talk about. Such as, if you were, hypothetically, a 5’4.5″ Master, and you were really a flats person, would you wear heels to your graduation?

CeCe Peniston – Finally