Happy New Year!

Happy 2016!  This will be the year I turn 36, and hopefully a whole lot more will happen than just that.  I have a bucket list for 2016 and it includes: climbing my first 14er, traveling all over Australia with B for the first time together (I’ve been once, before we met), hiking the trail between Aspen and Crested Butte, spending summer time with my family, taking a girls trip with my two best friends from SF, and helping B make us a new dining table (he’s already made us an incredible outdoor table and a mud room bench from our old fence!).

For New Year’s Eve, B played “mixologist” and we threw a cocktail party for our friends (mostly fellow teachers).  There were drinks and noms, and we had a great time.  Unfortunately, it was freezing outside (single digits!) and we have a shoes-off house so fashion was not well documented.  Here are some photos of us having fun anyway because you know, teachers have lives too!

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Language

So this happened:  A kid wrote “ching chong” on my white board today.  This happened sometime between the end of 5th period and the start of 6th period.  I have no idea who it was, it very well could have been a kid I don’t even teach.  I am half Chinese and half Swiss/Norwegian/Sweedish. I’ve heard all the slurs and seen all the fake “slanty eyes”.  I’ve been told from other Asians that I’m not Asian enough and I’ve been told from other Whites that I’m not White enough.

My initial thoughts were mostly benign, as in “I better erase that before it becomes distracting to the kids”.  But as I thought about it more, I started to get more and more emotional about it.  It was a teachable moment, and I decided to try and work with it.  I pointed it out to the kids, and started to explain why the slur was hurtful to me.  Then the worst thing happened – my emotions got the best of me and I started to cry.  I’ve never once cried in front of students (see this old post).  I’ve always been able to hold it together long enough for a break.  Evidently, this racial slur really dug deep into me.  My 6th period was sympathetic, empathetic and really listened to why seeing his slur hurt me.  A kid jumped up an erased it, and just listened.  Even as I cried and spoke from my heart to my kids, I recognized that who ever wrote the slur probably didn’t do it maliciously. In fact, the kid probably doesn’t even recognize it as a hateful racial slur.

I work at a racially segregated school, 81% of our students are Latino.  I am one of 4 Asians in the building.  Their exposure to Asian Americans are limited to what they see on TV and other popular culture which are full of stereotypes.  They exist in a bubble without exposure to diversity.  In addition, our school as a whole does not dedicate any time or energy towards ethnic studies, cultural sensitivity or social justice.  It does happen in individual classes – namely history classes – but there is no school wide focus.  Honoring, celebrating and learning from different cultures just has not been a priority.  So I’m going to try and create some change on that front this coming semester.  Literally, in the first weeks of school, I get asked hourly “where are you from. No really, where are you from?“.

Where am I from?  I’m from 37˚44’N, 122˚26’W:  San Francisco.  Coincidentally, I got a new tattoo of just that this past weekend.

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The rest of my outfit I photographed during lunch, before I became a mess.  Layers are key as a teacher.  I strip down to one layer while the room is full of teenagers and I’m running around teaching (sweating).  But then the kids leave taking their body heat with then so I cozy up during prep periods when my room turns freezing.

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coat and sweater: uniqlo – top: f21 – jeans, boots and bracelets: madewell – belt: gap – necklace: family heirloom

Family from Oz

My “in-laws” are in town from Oz!  I always look forward to their visits – it means I have an excuse to cook for more than 2, and we get to go out and do cool things.  Peter is a massive vintage car buff, specifically vintage Bentleys like his 1927 Bentley Le Mans.  Last weekend, we went to Aspen for the end of the Colorado Grand Vintage Car Rally, where we saw heaps of one of a kind vintage cars.  Mum on the other hand, is a gardening buff and has been laboring away in our garden every day helping us making it beautiful.  Cars and gardening have been the topic of conversation this past week, and I’ve been jealous of B and his work-from-home job.kimono6

This past Wednesday, we splurged and went to Beatrice and Woodsley for dinner.  I love this place.  The food is always amazing and the decor makes me feel like I’m having dinner in an Anthropologie store.  Side Note: the cocktails are fantastic, I recommend the “Worm’s Wild Ride”.

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B can’t stay off his phone!  :-/kimono8

Since I knew we were going out to a nice dinner, I decided to dress up a bit for school that day with my Forever 21 finds from last spring.  This dress is a bit of a potato sack dress without a belt, but it’s really perfect for school.  It’s sleeveless, so you won’t get pit stains from running all around the classroom during a lab.  It actually reaches my knees, so I won’t feel like I’m wearing something too risqué in front of hormonal teenage boys and girls.  The fabric is soft, drapey and machine washable, so it’s no big deal if you end up on the floor cleaning up spilled juice from some teenager drinking and eating in lab on the sly.  The dress was pricey for Forever 21, coming in at $25, but it has paid off so far in its versatility.  I’m thinking about picking up this one and this one to add to the work wardrobe.  Excuse the wrinkles, I just can’t be bothered with ironing and I don’t have a full sized closet so the bottoms of all my dresses get super wrinkled.

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cardigan and dress: f21 – belt: jcrew – shoes: sweedish hasbeens – watch: fossil

Ms. Rossin

This is Rossin, the 10th grade American Lit teacher and all around amazing woman.  She is the epitome of a teacher with a life: she sings, plays the ukelele, helps organize and put on the Arise Music Festival, she writes, raises kids, travels and does just about everything else.  Women like Rossin inspire me to do more and to do better both inside and outside the classroom.  Rosin also keeps it real.  She is the one to say all the things we are secretly too afraid to say out loud during staff meetings, such as “are we going to be compensated for this extra work?”  and “we really should be focusing on retaining teachers at this school and valuing the talent that we do have.”  This year she has a physical representation of a verbal filter – this necklace by  High Chi, with a Frank Loyd Wright design.
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Rossin also is able to form super productive and strong bonds with students in her class.  The other day, I took an informal poll in my class to see which of my students also had Rossin.  Students were enthusiastic about it and chimed in with comments such as:  “Rossin is damn cool, man.”  “Damn, I wish I had her, she seems hecka cool.” and “I really like Rossin and her class.”  It’s always heart warming to hear that students are enjoying their other classes (even if they like it more than mine =D)  Last year, whenever I’d take my shoes off and walk around barefoot at the end of the day, students would call me Rossin, the hippie teacher.

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dress/top – steven allen via buffalo exchange – jeans: levis – shoes: frye

The Winter Stay-cation (instagram round up)

Welcome back!  Today is the first monday of January – which means the first day back for us teachers!  Initially I had been working on B to take a Denver –> San Francisco and back road trip for the 2 weeks I had off.  in the end, he couldn’t be swayed to sit in the car for the 20 hours it would have taken us to get there, so a  Stay-cation is was.  This winter break was the chance to so all those “Colorado” things I’ve been missing out on this whole fall semester!  So I made a mental list and checked some off.

1) I went indoor rock climbing for the first time in 4 years at Thrill Seekers.  I’m hoping to continue it and eventually move into some real rock climbing – outdoors.

2) We found time for some more archer-ing (?).  It’s an amazing feeling to hit the bull’s eye.  One day I’ll Legolas the shit out of the target.  In the mean time, Abe and I (my Bio partner in crime) just let them fly and am happy if one lands on the paper inside the circles.  Getting better with practice though.

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3) I finally went snowboarding in Colorado, one of the main draws for me moving out here.  The snow has been coming down pretty heavily since christmas, so B and I made our way up to the mountains for the first time this season.  We both bought the Epic Local pass, so we have more than a few resorts to chose from.  Also, I bought myself a new board and bindings this year.  It was time to retire the old beat up, gouged up “vintage” Rossignol Strato from 2001.  The new board is amazing and I’m sure it will last me another 14 years!

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4) B and I went on 2 nice dinner dates – once at TAG and once at MY NEW FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN DENVER, Beatrice and Woodsley.  Sorry, that had to be in caps because this place is seriously amazing.  The decor is nothing short of magical (and I hate that word as a science teacher), and it feels like you’re dining inside an Anthropologie store (without all the clothes).  Just check out the photos!  The food is also amazing, interesting and French (my favorite only second to Vietnamese).

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5) I painted.  B had this large 3’x4′ canvas in his apartment in SF that he used as a projector screen.  When we moved to Brooklyn and in together, I insisted on keeping it, thinking I’d paint something cool and abstract on it one day.  Fast forward 3 years and the canvas was still untouched, save for a huge red wine splash on a corner.  B kept threatening to get rid of it if I wasn’t going to do anything with it, and I stalled for 3 years.  I’m not a painter.  The last time I painted, I was in high school taking a summer art class at Academy of Art College (now University) in SF.  This stay-cation was the perfect time to get it done.  It has been amateur hour at the Schenck artist studio.  I channeled my inner Bob Ross and bought a mixing knife, a fatty brush and 4 colors from a Michael’s craft store.  I started out with some paint scribbles and what looked like might be ocean waves, and ended up with this.  No idea how it worked, but I like it enough.  i think I’ll call it, Serenity.  Lolz.

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6) B and I went shopping at the Arcteryx outlet and spent way too much money on awesome jackets.  I bought a new snowboarding shell, and he bought a soft jacket and a shell.  All last year’s colors and and extra 30% off the already reduced prices.  We were like kids in a candy shop, wanted all of the things.  Now we match like major dorks.

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This is a complete coincidence, I promise.  I bought my black jacket at the start of fall.  Then B bought his black beanie from REI and I just “had to have” the orange version (I wanted to look like this girl) a few weeks before the break.  Then he just “had” to get the orange version of my jacket way later.  We’re just too cool, man.

Since You’ve Been Gone

Or, since I’ve been gone.

I’ve let this blog drop for the past 8 months for a few reasons:

  1. I fell into a sartorial rut
  2. I ran out of things to say (or so I thought)
  3. B and I decided to make (yet another) life change by moving to Denver, CO
  4. I got busy (but not really, it was more laziness than anything)

I’m still struggling with #1 and #2, but slightly less so now.  My climate has changed and more significantly, my mode of transportation has changed.  We bought a car, so I no longer have to schlep it through snow/sleet and for that matter walk very much at all to/from school.  My Fitbit has had depressingly low numbers since we moved.  I no longer have to worry about new shoes giving me blisters after walking miles or how hot/cold I will be on the walk to the subway. I can wear whatever I want now, thanks to the fancy A/C and heated seats in the new ride.  It’s borderline bougie.  In addition, I’m starting at a new school here in Denver.  That means new all of the things: classes, students, standards, curriculum (the district curriculum tells you to teach from a textbook – that’s practically a dirty word where I come from), BBC (blackboard configuration), buzz words, rules, etc.  I will have heaps to talk about.  I’m entering my 6th year of teaching high school science in public schools.  I’m just going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for making it past the legendary “50% gone by 5 years” mark.   Do I feel like an experienced teacher?  Nope.  Not even close.

So what has happened since I’ve been gone?  If you follow me on Instagram, none of this is news to you.

I went to the Dominican Republic over winter break with a couple of awesome friends.

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I went to Puerto Rico over spring break with yet another awesome friend.  Most amazing tropical beach vacation ever.

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Hung out with my niece and went with my sister to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner pre-parties again.

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B and I packed up, said goodbye (with a bit of tears) to my crew kids at Leaders, bid farewell to Brooklyn and moved to Denver.  We’ve been here for a month so far,  more on Denver to come.

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Scenes from a weekend in San Francisco

I spent this past weekend back in my city by the bay, San Francisco.  It felt so amazing to be home – clean air, the smell of blackberry bushes and eucalyptus gum trees, with a favorite walk through my hood.  I miss this city so much it was hard to leave to come back to Brooklyn.  While I am happy to be home again (with my dog), I think it’s pretty safe to say that both B and I are San Franciscans (or Australian-San Franciscans) through and through.  B had been there for a couple weeks already for an Automattic meetup, so he had plenty of time to enjoy the city and time with friends.  I flew out directly after school on Thursday afternoon to meet him.  The kids were so cute, they took one look at my carry-on and asked to come with!

I didn’t spend too much time with my camera out — instead, I opted to just keep my eyes out.  Here are a few snaps from the weekend:

1) Friend/B’s fellow Automattician Rose’s wedding in Kenwood, CA, the excuse reason for the quick trip out west.  I borrowed this Nanette Lepore dress from my sister.  I figured if she looked fantastic in it, so would I.

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2) A stroll through the north east corner of SF, with seagulls to keep me company.

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3) A Taqueria Cancun stop.  OF COURSE!  NYC just can’t get the mission burrito right.

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4) A walk through my hood and the neighboring hood, with a stop at the rope swing on Billy Goat Hill.

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5) A stop at Tartine with my favorite girls, Marisa and her 2 little munchkins.

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I’ll probably be back sometime in February for the NYC DOE’s mid-winter break.  In the meantime, I’ll have other SF blogs to keep me happy, such as Past The Mission and The Local Transplant.  If you haven’t already entered the giveaway for a $100 LOFT card, click here for my last post and get in on it!

The Perks of Being a Teacher – A Giveaway (closed)

Sometimes, there are some real perks for being a teacher — Teacher Discounts.  We get discounts at Barnes and Noble, J. Crew, Apple, Madewell, Banana Republic and at LOFT.  Most of the time the discount varies from 5% to 15%, which is just enough to make me feel special.

This week, LOFT is offering a bonus discount, an extra 25% off for teachers.  Even more exciting, LOFT contacted me to say that they have a $100 gift card to give away to one of my readers!  I’ve never had a company email me before with stuff like this, so it’s pretty exciting to know that this little blog o’ mine is getting some traction.   This giveaway is open to US readers only.  To enter, just leave a comment below.  Keep in mind that the email address you use to post the comment will be the address I use to contact you if the randomizer picks you.  Once I get your info (and thank you for reading my blog) I’ll forward your deets to LOFT. I’ll leave it open ’til Friday night.

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Update:  Congrats Ms. Roberson!

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The last hurrah Part 2: the road trip

On the way down and back from Savannah, Grace and I took our time on the ole I-95 and…

1) ate at Cracker Barrel 3 times.  That place is so yummy and cheap — we gorged on mac n’ cheese and their biscuits.  This is my excited face for good ‘ole country food.

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sunnies: knockaround – tank: f21 – shorts: uniqlo – shoes: saltwater sandals – bag: h&m

2) stopped at the Wormsloe Plantation on the outskirts of Savannah, mainly to check out the long oak lined driveway and for a quick history lesson from the park ranger.

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3) we went to Medieval Times!!   A SF friend of mine, Sunny, is from Myrtle Beach, SC.  So naturally I had to check it out on the way home.  I emailed her for recomendations and she hooked us up with her friend who is a beer wench at Medieval Times.  There was no way I could pass up an opportunity to be called m’lady.  I freaking loved it, but I don’t think Grace shared my dorky excitement for knights and jousting.  WE GOT CROWNS!!  Sadly, our blue night “died” near the end after a battle with the black and white night.  *tear*

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4) we stopped at so many gas stations I lost count.  The best one by far had a Dunkin Doughnuts and a lion statue outside.  Naturally, I just had to climb on it and strike a pose.  I ended up with a slight burn from the hot steel.  Oops!

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