Sunday, September 27, 2009

Birthday adventures

I made the drive down to Yale last weekend to see Henry for my birthday. I left work early on Friday and took Monday off (I'd worked Labor Day in exchange). I managed to nab a room at the Courtyard at Yale for $50/night on Priceline, way better than their advertised rate of $150/night (yes, staying in Henry's dorm would've been free, but that would've been pretty awkward for his roommate). It was weird being back on campus - I felt like I didn't belong there (because I don't anymore), and I didn't like it. Yale had always felt like home before.

I had brunch in new Calhoun and got to see some of the young'uns (Dan baked me a bazillion of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had), and Dr. J. took me and my friend Mark (Calhoun '09) on a tour of the renovated basement and Master's house. Dr. J's son must've grown a foot over the summer! I remember when that kid was knee high to a grasshopper and didn't say a word. Way back when we were freshmen. Sigh.

Other birthday weekend adventures included finding an AWESOME hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place, running out to Costco so I could buy more calcium chews (very important, ladies!), peach and pear picking at Bishop's Orchards, and a lovely birthday dinner at La Taberna in Bridgeport with a $25 off "gift certificate" from

All in all, I think it was my favorite birthday so far. Not that last year wasn't great - first football game as DM, followed by drinking and Toad's-ing with y'all was epic. But this year, I never felt like throwing up, and last year, I wanted to throw up lots, from first football game nerves and from y'all buying me too many drinks.

I miss you all! And I vote we all go to Mexican Taqueria Market #2 on the Sunday after The Game, if y'all will still be in town.

Oh, and PS: when I arrived on Friday night, as I was pulling up to the back gate of Pierson, a bunch of the men's hockey team walked past, all dressed up in suits. I miss them too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

my life these days

1) I got a haircut on Tuesday afternoon. It is pretty short, and so kind of sticks up all over. When I arrived at school on Wednesday morning, this is what one of my first-graders had to say: "Miss Alway! You got shaved!"

2) I am starting to adapt Delta dialect, most particularly "fittin' to." This is Delta-speak for "fixing to," i.e. "Jaquirrious if you don't get a move on you're fittin' to miss that bus."

3) I am possibly starting a fifth and sixth grade band? This is exciting and also terrifying. We really need one; right now the high school band is pretty small and pretty bad because there's no feeder program at all. My kids are ALL super excited. And they ALL want to play drums.

4) I also joined the Greenwood community band! It consists mostly of the extremely elderly, plus a few high school students and me and Will (another TFA teacher, the choir director at the high school. He went to UConn and played trumpet in the marching band!) We play lots and lots of marches, but I like it.

5) I am also taking guitar lessons. My teacher is old, crotchety, mustached, and chain-smokes throughout each lesson. It's awesome.

6) It has been raining for about ten days straight now, and as a result the local mosquito population is greatly increased and has been FEASTING on my blood. Kids: "Miss Alway, you got red bumps all over your arms!" Me: "I KNOW."

7) I miss you all! And I can't wait for the Game.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Things I have learned

Hey friends,
Most of you probably already know that I had an unscheduled visitor in the wee hours of Monday morning. It was very not fun. Not only did I wake up to find a strange guy in my room taking (and getting away with!) tons of my stuff, but he also invaded my private space and peace of mind and fledgling acceptance of Baltimore. It also meant a veritable parade of police and such, and now insurance and the DMV (again!) and and and...
Fortunately, no one was hurt, and I did have renters insurance.
Anyway, if you don't yet-- I have some tips.
1) Get renter's insurance. Seriously. It's not expensive, and if you were to wake up in the middle of the night with a strange man in your room/house/apartment, stealing lots of your stuff, you'll be very glad you have it.

2) back up your files. I didn't lose much, luckily. Also, backing up your files doesn't do you any good if thieves take the backup too. So store your external elsewhere. Or let me refer you to dropbox (which is a handy dandy internet backup service! If I reccomend you, then we both get more space! It's awesome.)

3) save receipts for big purchases. Computers, camera, phones, etc. They come in handy when you have to prove you own things that were stolen from you. Or take photos. You can also add specific things to your insurance policy-- like your computer, or other especially valuable things.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Speaking of the Swine...

I may have it. Let's just say I have some form of the flu. Damn kindergarteners and their snotty noses. Also damn working in a charter school with no subs. It makes you feel so much more guilty when you have to miss school.

In other (late) news, I visited Rita last weekend for Labor Day! I love getting holidays off! We had an exciting weekend of stripping wallpaper, replastering her walls, and painting her kitchen a beautiful sunny yellow. Even though Rita did make me refinish her kitchen, it was a great weekend and was so nice to relax with a real friend who actually knows me. One downer of the weekend - I got my first speeding ticket on the way home. Mississippi Goddamn.


Yay!! No school on Monday!

Swine flu has sadly (?) come to Xiuning, so our school has shut down classes for seven days. Yay seven-day vacation, but let's all hope the student that got swine flu lives!

Some of us are thinking of going to visit Chris and his crew at Changsha, but we probably won't (sorry Chris) because who knows what we have right now, it's a 12-hour bus ride, and we still have stuff to do here. We're writing a newspaper!! Yay!

Ok miss you all. Stay safe, as crazy things seem to be happening at Yale. Byezors.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

From sea to shining sea

4,056.6 miles of road, 1,969 photos, and 13 days of bonding time with dear old Mom and Dad after leaving the Atlantic Seaboard, I am back on the Left Coast (and this time with a car!)

I won’t bore you with all the gory details of my trip, but at the end of it all the U.S. of A. actually seems a lot smaller. Paradoxical, maybe, that a land that takes 13 days (at least with all our detours) to cross by car would seem smaller than a country you can cross in 5-6 hours by plane. But before this trip, the middle of the U.S. always seemed like a mysterious, impossibly large expanse. I’d get on a plane on one coast, and get plopped down on the other, without seeing anything in between except for the very little you can make out from a plane window. I might as well have been traveling through a wormhole between two different universes. But now that I can draw a line (or more like a zig zag) across the country along which I’ve experienced the landscape, culture, people, etc., the country seems more manageable and more familiar. I’ve connected the two universes, without having to resort to post-Newtonian physics!

I learned a few things along the way. Things like places of incredible natural beauty are often in close proximity to places of shameless and absurd (and amusing) human development. And that 99% of the time, a sign welcoming you to an Indian reservation is shortly followed by a much larger and glitzy sign for a casino. And that it is actually possible to get heat stroke even long after the sun has gone down (I found this out after attempting to walk two blocks at a street fair in Palm Springs, where it was well over 100 degrees at 8:00 in the evening, and nearly passing out).

And I gained some favorite new places that I will have to get back to some day. Here are some of them, if you ever happen to be looking for awesome places to stop/vacation/etc.:
-Harpers Ferry, WV – quaint and only slightly touristy village in very scenic setting, preserved more or less as it was in the Civil War era. Close to Baltimore and D.C., and a great spot methinks for a romantic getaway (wink, wink)
-Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg, TN – The most visited national park is fittingly right next to an extremely touristy, kitschy, Southern country vacation town—think Myrtle Beach in the mountains.
-Graceland and Beale St. in Memphis – Well, at least some of you have been here. The King’s wonderfully decorated abode and airplanes must not be missed, nor the music and street performers on Beale St. (and the Johnny Cash impersonator who, according to my dad, sings better than Johnny Cash).
-Sweet tea – OK, not a place, but my beverage of choice from Virginia to Arkansas. It made me so sad when we got to Texas and they didn’t serve it anymore:-(
-The many cafes, motels, and other business along historic Route 66 that have shamelessly huge signs advertising their associations with the highway and the whole road trip theme. My favorite place perhaps was the Roadkill CafĂ©, with a miniature recreation of an Old West town and their slogan: “If You Kill It, We Grill It”.
-Arroyo Seco – A tiny village near Taos, NM, that we discovered more or less by accident, that has more hippies and brightly colored things on display than I’ve seen anywhere east of the Sierra Nevada. And they have a hostel called the Abominable Snowmansion. Amazing.
-Mesa Verde National Park – Out in the middle of nowhere Colorado, but with amazing cliff dwellings that you can hike and climb into. Those of you who took Scully’s class, I’m pretty sure a couple of those buildings we memorized were here.
-Grand Canyon – No explanation necessary, I think.
-Las Vegas – The mother and father of all shamelessness and human excess, conveniently located within a few hours of the Grand Canyon and other sublimely beautiful national parks.

That’s all—now I can relax, because all I have to do is buy furniture/kitchenware, get officially orientated even after already working here for 2 months, meet other new grad students, audition for symphony orchestra in one week (I haven’t played any of the audition materials yet), take classes that last only 10 weeks before you take finals on them (thank you very much, quarter system), take 3 quarters worth of those classes, then take massive uber-final on all 12 of those classes. But one thing at a time.

Peace and <3 and happy alumni-dom to all,

Friday, September 11, 2009


So I know I had a lot of time to do kick-ass stuff this summer, but GOOD LORD I am ready for the next step. This is what I do with my time:

-clean my room
-facebook/putz around on the internet, mostly on (thanks, Rita!)
-hide from the smoke (though not as much anymore, yay)

Basically my life for the past month has been a kind of haze of not doing anything substantial. It is okay, though, right? Since I have the rest of my life to do things? I just feel super lazy because almost everyone I know has a job/started school/leaves the house before noon every day.

Also I just spent about an hour on looking at what's going on at Yale. Misogynistic emails, missing people, and a rooftop terrace at Toads! It is as interesting as ever and of course people started talking about recruited athletes again. So I guess nothing has changed too drastically...

In exciting news: I move into my apartment/dorm Tuesday! And I heard from my roommate yesterday (finally)! And then class doesn't start till the 24th. The quarter system is weeeird. And this afternoon, I'm going shopping for wedding dresses with my friend who got engaged like a month ago. WE ARE OLD.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

to all of you working stiffs

And for that matter, all of you grad students too.

Think your job is rough? Boss getting on your nerves? Or maybe all the grad/law school work is getting to you? Well, the next time you're feeling frustrated with work, ask yourself this:

Did anyone throw up at your workplace today? Did they just up and expell partially-digested sloppy joes* all over the floor, right in the middle of your lesson on eighth notes? WELL? DID THEY?

That's what I thought.

*I know that is gross. Sorry.

You remember...

...that story about the naked dude that Ken found passed out in his bed and refused to leave...while butt-ass naked?

On an unrelated note, Ken (and Erica) came to visit last weekend while Erica apartment hunted in D.C. and they stayed in my bedroom while I was away in Philly.

Also, Ned seriously called Ken 'Steve' no less than two times without realizing what he was doing.