Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration with Freshmen

I guess my school district didn't know when they made this year's calendar that the inauguration would be as important and phenomenal as it turned out to be, but man they made some poor scheduling choices. Yesterday was, yes, the inauguration, but it was also the last day of class before final exams. Fortunately, the 12pm EST oath-ing time translates to 9am here, which means that it's still during first block, AKA my prep period. So I got to choose how and where I watched (not exactly--I would have chosen to watch it live in DC, but that was definitely not an option).

I went to our department chair's classroom where she does have a first block, but our is also of the belief that everyone should see this. She gave the kids a review packet with the option to work on it or watch history. Most of the kids were unimpressed with the history option. On one hand, this apathy might be yet another reason for my faith in the youth of America to continue declining. But we have to remember that the last time these kids had the opportunity to see an inauguration, they were in fifth grade. And the last time a new president was inaugurated, they were six. So yeah, I can see why inaugurations in general don't mean too much. Beyond that, this is a class of English Language Learners, with the vast majority having moved to America only within the past few years or in some cases, the past few months. Of course they don't have the same sense of national pride and interest in this kind of change.

This is not to say that the kids worked diligently on their review packets and ignored the TV. I actually DID lose faith in this generation when M. asked who Aretha Franklin is. Most kids got the message that this is a big deal. Probably becase the four math teachers in the room harshly shushed them during Obama's speech (ooh, now I can say President Obama!). M. was of course still not without comment. Amid the applause at the speech's conclusion, M. turned to me with only this to say: "Man, he talks a LOT." Fair enough. So do you M., so maybe you'll be president one day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

NY Times, You're Brilliant

I think we already know my affection for Wordles (or word clouds, as they are sometimes called in non-name brand parlance), and many people might be familiar with my penchant for US presidential history and trivia. So when I opened up this morning, I almost choked on my huevos rancheros (Sarah and I make delicious breakfasts on weekends).

Here it is, an interactive feature that appears to have been designed just for me.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Welcome to the F.C.

Don't worry, the moving disaster was not all for naught. The apartment is now fully furnished, almost unpacked, and a little bit decorated. More importantly, we live in the most ridiculous/awesome city in the country (save Celebration, Florida, of course). Dear readers, I present to you Foster City, California.

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As you can see, something about this map looks a little different from most other cities. That's because it is. Our fair community was quite literally built from nothing. I encourage you to read this awesome official history, but to make a long story short the city was built in the 1970's on land reclaimed from the Bay. So we are a 100% planned community.

Now you may be thinking (1) that sounds creepy and unnatural, (2) we'll be the first to go when the ice caps are done melting and (3) this doesn't sound like a very rollicking place for two twentysomething women. And you're completely correct on all accounts. But there's still something about the suburban cheesiness of it all that I kind of love.

This is an interactive blog post, so go do some exploring on the Google Map. Have you found the fish neighborhood yet? The constellation district? The island streets that are not on islands? Come on, don't you kind of wish you lived on Shooting Star Isle or Polynesia Circle? That you could frolic in Sea Cloud Park? Wouldn't you love it if your city hall and library were on Shell Boulevard? Aren't you daydreaming about taking your boat from Flying Mist Isle over to visit your friends on Lido Lane?

If you really want to turn green with envy, I can mention the dog park (right next to one of at least three Starbucks (not counting the ones inside Safeway and Target)) and the light-up sign I drive past ever day that advertises things like "Adult Social Dance" and "Congratulation boys U-10 soccer team!" It's pretty much darling. Then there's the FCTV and my personal favorite, the Penninsula Jewish Community Center. Why do I love the PJCC so much? Because where else could I take my favorite little cousin to "Latkepalooza"? (more on that when I post about how we spent our holidays)

Then there are the less cheesy things, like having green space and parks every few blocks and grocery stores within walking distance. I especially love the waterways. I love that I cross 1-2 bridges every time I go anywhere (we live in the sailboat district, by the way, and whenever we go to Ranch 99 I wonder what a ketch and a yawl are). I love that we can walk to waterfront restaurants. I love that this is a regular sight for me:

As for the rollicking good time for twentysomethings, there's always the two FC hotspots: Chevy's and the Clubhouse Bistro inside the Crowne Plaza. It's pretty much like living in San Francisco.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Apartment

Okay, so this is something I should have posted approximately four months ago, but too bad. Why four months ago? Because that's when I moved into a residence where, for the first time since high school, I plan to live for more than two years. And honestly, based on the nightmarish moving experience we had I'd be okay if I lived here for the rest of my life just so I never have to bother packing and unpacking ever again.

Luckily my roommate Sarah and I had some overlap in living situations so we could move a little bit at a time, but we decided to spend one day renting a moving van and getting the big stuff out of the way. Even better, our friend Danny offered to split it with us so he could move his stuff up to San Francisco.

But then there was The Couch. It was a beautiful couch. We found it on Craigslist from a guy who also sold us his beautiful TV cabinet. The Couch was up in San Francisco too, so we figured it would be easy to drop off Danny's stuff at his new apartment, swing by to get the couch, and then finish the moving day back at our apartment. In the end, this is pretty much what happened, but only if you leave out the miserable details.

Moving in general took much longer than we expected, so we didn't end up getting to the apartment to pick up the couch until about 11pm. When we arrived our van was still packed with Danny's stuff because we hadn't had time to unload it at his apartment yet. The couch seller said his neighbors were sensitive to noise and it would obviously be a challenge to silently move a couch and cabinet down four flights of stairs. We tried to be as quiet as possible, but the banging into walls was inevitable. Soon there was an angry British man in a short bathrobe out in the stairwell asking if we knew what time it was. While I understand that he was probably sleepy and annoyed, I had to wonder if he thought we had made this decision to move at midnight for our sheer enjoyment. Did we look like we were having fun? Because I was sweaty and disgusting and pretty sure that my muscles were going to give out at any moment. But that's how I like to spend my free time, so yes, Sir British Man, I am doing this just to annoy you. And no, I didn't know I was making any noise.

By the time we got everything outside Sarah and I practically had to gag Danny to keep him from yelling, "Wait, who won the Revolutionary War?" at random windows. Fortunately we distracted him by trying to figure out what we should do with these giant pieces of furniture when we already had a full moving truck. This was the best solution we could come up with:

And so we left our fantastic Craigslist finds with crossed fingers and a plan to move Danny's stuff into his apartment at light speed. Naturally, this plan was thwarted when his bed frame wouldn't fit in the front door. So we tried the back door, which involves hopping a fence and braving a fire escape, and of course it didn't fit there either. Next thing I knew, it was 2am and I was sitting in an unlit backyard using the wrong kind of wrench to unscrew a headboard.

But wait, there's more. With a finally empty moving van we drove back to pick up the couch and cabinet from the alleyway where we'd tried to "hide" them. I wasn't too worried--we'd been gone for maybe an hour and a half and anyway, who's trolling for free furniture at 2am? Apparently someone is because as we pulled up to the apartment we say a shadowy figure sprint away from where our couch was, hop in a car (that already had its lights on), and speed away. Seriously?!

Fast forward a 45 minute drive back to Foster City and we were ready to get the furniture into its new home. We'd discovered when moving the couch out that the only way to get it through doorways was to stand it on it's end and push the bottom through the door. So we got it into the hallway of our apartment building, started to flip it on its end, and then it stopped. Tall couch + low ceiling = physical impossibility. At 3am with no mental or physical energy left, we were at a loss. The only other door to our apartment is the door to the patio, which happens to be surrounded by an eight-foot fence. At 3am, after about 18 straight hours of moving, we agreed that it was worth it to keep the moving van for another day and leave the couch until we could figure something out.

Don't worry, there's a happy ending. The moral of this story is that eight-foot fences cannot be conquered by three weak, exhausted movers in the wee hours of the morning. But they can be conquered by four kind, generous, wonderful friends who have nothing better to do than drive to Foster City and help out their fellow teachers.

Welcome home.