new blog

which I will update more frequently than this one

http://www.middleagedschool.wordpress.com

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Long time no post

And I call myself a writer.  Wait, do I call myself a writer?

So here it is June 1st and it is a bit of winter outside – cloudy and very cool. I closed the windows and I’ll see if heat comes out of the radiators.  Yikes.  Tomorrow is the one maybe sunny-ish day, then rain and cooler weather for awhile.

I’m teaching in the Exp___ program at U__ again – the five week  English language program exchange thing. I taught it in 2012, 2014 and last year part-time.  I’m doing two classes: part-time in the mornings and full afternoons. It is a very busy program and some of the students are only 18 and I have  whack of those students in the afternoon and EEEEEK and there was complaining and it’s dramatic and all sorts. Sigh.  The morning class is awesome.  I’ve also just started teaching a one night a week course at Langara. Eight weeks.  It is all women this time and they are eager and all have a rather low level of English and they just really want to learn. Most middle-aged like me which is usually the case. From China mainly and one from Montreal!  Her English is not too bad actually. I think they will gel together nicely.  The commute remains dumb.

It is mostly good for me to work.  The stress of the afternoon class has felt not worth it but we persevere I guess.

I am not typing out the full name of the program or the university as I don’t want it to show up on google searches. Paranoid probably as I’ve written about it in the past but you never know.

I’ve been having horrible insomnia though every night – I fall asleep fine but then wake up at 3 or 4 am and don’t go back to sleep.  Sigh.  It’s kind of a vicious cycle.  I’ve tried exercising earlier in the day and etc.  Nothing seems to help.

Lord have mercy.

I’m about 91% sure I will be taking the gerontology program at Langara this fall – it is a new two year program.  Hopefully they will get enough students to run it!  It is a bit scattered at the moment and of course that stresses me the heck out. Everything is so chronically uncertain.  Aaaargh. I would like to go back to school – the first time would be not too intense and the second year (of two years, Sept-April so I can still teach Expl__!) will have a practicum.

Aaargh on the uncertainty.

Maybe sun tomorrow so a bit of Kits. Pool I guess.  Here in Vancouver we wait all year for the sun after months of gray and rain.  And . . . it doesn’t come. Hopefully July and August will be better.

Shockingly, the downtown school is offering a free staff yoga evening in a few weeks – restorative with massage or something. I am in.  I like yin yoga but have never liked the standing poses of Hatha because I fall a lot, although I know that actually doing it would help that.  And then my hands really really shake now and I’m so conscious of that and etc.  So I’m hoping the focus is on the sitting/lying down poses.  I would do more Yin but yoga studios in Vancouver have really hefty drop in rates – like $25 for a class.  Vancouver, especially Kitsilano, is very yoga and lululemon. Heck, the lululemon head office is kilometre or so away from me and I pass it everytime I cycle downtown.  Yoga as vastly overpriced yoga wear but I think the thing at the downtown school (free!) should be just great. Mats provided!  People apparently cry often in this particular yoga-version because of the massage element or something. So I’ll shake and cry.

Oh the downtown school I’m not there at the moment (and even when I’m there, I’m barely working) but do get the e-mails.  Apparently students are complaining because other students aren’t speaking English and the downtown school advertises heavily that they prevent this. So I e-mail back, uh, the students are constantly speaking their own languages in the student lounge.  The exception is for them to speak English so maybe they should get a monitor in there.  This did not go over well with the boss who wasn’t fired right before Christmas.  “Do you tell them to stop when you are there, Karen?” was the one line e-mail from the boss who wasn’t fired right before Christmas.

I meant to offend no one I wrote back.  Didn’t hear back.  Oh downtown school.  But I mean really.

My U_, boss told me I am quirky.  You have to admit Karen that you are quirky, he said.  So I admitted it, ha. Yikes, I’m 52 years old and still don”t like myself or feel settled that who I am is okay.  That quirky is okay and etc. If not now, then when. When when when and finally, when.

Interesting. I was walking to the bus stop this morning and I sensed that my boss would be driving by and pick me up.  This has never happened.  And yet there he was! We had a lovely conversation on the drive up.  Weird how we can sometimes sense these things.

Roseanne went nuts and photos of Drake in blackface went quite public.  Neither of these things do I understand.

 

 

and then, snow

My niece was rather amused by my video on Facebook that showed the newly falling snow in Vancouver blanketing everything.

“So late in the season!” I noted.

Heck, said my niece, this is typical mid-winter in Ottawa.  Well, yes, and even more so in my hometown of Winnipeg where I lived for the first almost 21 years of my life. I also spent part of my 20s in Medicine Hat, Alberta,, which also knows for snow.

But that was years ago.  One forgets.  Five years ago when I was in and out of a Winnipeg winter visiting my terminally ill mom and then for her funeral (sniffle, Christmas Eve, 2013) I couldn’t quite believe the cold.  It was -50C with windchill, the wind blowing snow off the ground.  I’d forgotten about the hard packed snow/ice on the sidewalks.

“This is, it’s, it’s inhumane!”

Tomorrow morning I have to commute out to L. College which was closed today but which is promising to be open tomorrow.  Goodness knows how long it will take me to get there and I can’t imagine many students showing up.  Dread.  Dread.  There is less sanding in Vancouver, less shovelling of common spaces.  Lots of falling. Slipping, falling.

Sigh.

Apparently the snowing will stop at 5 am and then return tomorrow night.

Tis how it is.  Here’s hoping I don’t fall. Godspeed and all of that.

My brain is not too well and I’m hoping that doing some part time work at the university for three weeks will help.

Things are not well but perhaps as well as they can be under the conditions.

Well, that was vague but necessary.

Snow.

Drivers were still driving down the street I live on, even though it is very steep and not in any way plowed.

Terminal exceptionalism – the idea that one’s situation is always different than other people’s.  Like no one else can drive down this street because of the danger of slipping and sliding but I can.  That kind of a thing.  Thanks to Rob Lowe for explaining that definition.  In his case he was speaking of Charlie Sheen and a different kind of snow.

The evening news is showing video of the highway and people sliding off, their cars often turning upside down and all sorts.

Brains are tricky.

Wow, a woman not related to a dog that fell through the ice at Trout Lake jumped in to save it.  Holy wow!

R. is a good friend.  ‘Sometimes your Facebook comments can make you seem mean and grumpy.  And you’re not but that is the impression you can leave.”

He was right although I am mean and grumpy. His was a good point though.  When the brain’s not up to snuff, the mean and grumpy FB comments come out.

Winter needs to go in preparation for spring.  I want to ride my bicycle.

 

 

Downtown shrove Tuesday and gee

So. Working a two hour shift – that is right 120 minutes – is not illegal apparently in the ‘education world’ as one might, on a randomly strange day, call the downtown school.

Then I’m not working until Thursday evening in the fourth of eight classes at L. College.

That’s right, things are still silly and difficult in the work world.

My brain is not on – had some insomnia then some weird nightmares where I moved to Mexico and had a breakdown and the late actress Esther Rolle was there to offer support.

You can’t make these things up. Well, I guess you can but why.

Oh, right, New York, I was going to write about that.

Let’s see.

Nope, I have nothing at the moment. A return trip for me this year  seems more unlikely since i’m never working and also now have the Samsung 8. A lovely phone and a lovely improvement from my 2.5 year old Samsung Grand Prime that no longer held a charge for very long, had no space, and the charger thing was wonky and I kept having to buy new charger cords.  I got a good deal from Fido (local carrier, owned by Rogers) and now have 10 gigs of data which I in no way need that much but it was part of the good-ish deal.

So there we go.

Lots of space on the phone and I have been enjoying adding apps and games.

The phone was $110 (tax in) plus the 2 year plan obviously – if i break the phone – that will be $1,000 please and thank you.

I hope I can enjoy it for a few minutes before the breakage.  No more cell phone while taking a bath!

Have I mentioned that I need a job?  I can probably fake my way through a spring/summer with a bit of work here and there but come September I am oy oy oy.

Oy.

and finally, oy.

Let us get our minds off of all this, shall we?

I think I ‘d like to go back to NYC but not necessarily the whole flight madness and weird Air BnB weirdness (double weird).  The thing is (here is the thing) NYC is so expensive that it would be hard to find a cheaper place to stay unless I found another Air BnB but better the devil you know, you know?

I don’t think I can eat pancakes for dinner, so ixnay on that Shrove Tuesday free deal.

Some more

I am hearing an entire phone conversation under my window (well, one half of it).

“Cindy!  How are you?  I’m in Vancoooover and I’m just finishing up my walk with my dog Alfie.  So when’s your last day?  Yeah, yeah.”

I’m assuming she doesn’t mean her last day of life.  “So when is your last day of life?”  Yeah, oh yeah.”

That would be kind of weird.

I wonder what city the caller is in and does she think Vancouver is pronounced Vancooooover.  Cindy, where are you and how do you pronounce Vancouver?

I am bored.  Yup.  The winter is endless this year in Vancooooover.  Rain rain rain rain rain.  There is talk of a sunny day coming up.  Glory be.

Glory be.

Oh, wee wee very wee fan base here at jobsearchinginvancouver.blogspot.com – I am still job searching!  Isn’t that crazy!  Well, I’m currently clinging to two hours a day for a few days at the downtown school and a bit at L. College.  It is craziness all around.  Tedious as heck.

I’ve applied at a few random places – BC Ferries to be a ticket taker! But have heard nothing of course.

So much tedious.

One can only watch so

Much

Netflix.

My birthday is coming up and I will officially be in my early to almost mid-50s goodness gracious.

Good lord.

What the heck.

I am trying to think what else to write about New York City.  Well, I recently read an excellent book on gentrification there – “The Creative Destruction of New York City: Engineering the city for the elite.”  Academic, well-researched.  Having read that, reading “Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its soul,’ is disappointing and I’m glad I got it from the library and didn’t buy it.  The writer writes with passion which is good but he is short on facts and the facts he does have he seems to have cut and pasted.  He has a blog as well by the same name.  It is hard to go from a very well-written book to a much less well-written one, tis true.

The tedious time totally terrorizes me.

That’s dramatic but lots of nice ‘t’ sounds.

I don’t know how to change my life or take advantage of the time so I, I.

Well, at least I am blogging again I guess.

I have a “swipe again,” postcard I got in New York.  Oh who cares.  Sorry, that is the tedious in me.  It refers to the Metrocard and how often when swiping to get to the subway, it says Swipe Again.  And you’ve got a line up behind you.  It’s a bit of a crazy thing.  I read that New York City is finally going to be set up for Smartphone use so I guess you can get through with that.

I also have a postcard of a young Elvis’s face and neck, shoulders.

I have been working Saturday mornings at L. College (will be 8 Saturdays in all. I’m replacing another teacher who had to take last session and this session off.)  A good little gig it is.  Anyway, this weekend the college is closed for Family day weekend so I signed up for an “Invisible Disabilities’ workshop at a downtown church.  Should be very interesting and informative.  I am looking forward to it.  I am pleased that it fell on a Saturday that I could actually make it. (R. if you are reading this I can still make it to book club.  Everything at once.  Won’t be tedious at least!).

Have you seen Vancouver winter skies?  So many clouds it is just one giant dark cloud of darkness. Sigh.

Oh yes, I took a couple of great tours in NYC. Run by Free Tours on Foot, they are free but of course you tip after which I did and generously – great tours.  I did one of Greenwich Village and one in Harlem.  The guides are generally older folks, probably retired and making a bit of extra money.  A good gig – they may work three or four days a week and the tours are about two hours.  The more people, the more tips of course.  I think it is a great idea.  The Greenwich Village guide was super knowledgeable and had a ton of interesting information to share, three quarters of which I forget oh well.  The Harlem tour – it was freezing cold that day and I almost didn’t go but I did, I did.  Also very interesting. The Harlem tour started at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which is part of the New York City library system.  I was early (surprising) so went inside and looked around at a little gallery and a great bookstore/gift shop.  Everywhere in NYC the gift shops/bookstores were awesome I found, especially the New York Public Library’s on 42nd Street.

What else, what else.

No, really, what else.

Nope, that’s it.

 

Housing Works works

What I had been looking most forward to in New York City was going to Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe in Soho on Saturday, December 16th (2017).  It was the day of the annual ‘A Christmas Carol’ marathon where for 4.5 hours or so, various authors and actors would read from Dickens’ book.  Prior to it there was to be a Christmas carol concert by the New York City Master Chorale.

The event took place on my eighth day in the city and I was tired but exhilarated in many ways.  Travel for me means nightly insomnia no matter how relaxed I tell myself to be.  And travel is tiring in its way – the coming, the going, the ins and outs.  The subway.  The this, the that.

I Google mapped my way on the subway – and actually found that the bookstore was within easy walking distance of the second line I had to take. Hallelujah!  Well, I did walk the wrong way initially but I eventually made it.  I arrived about a half an hour before the carolling was to start.

Holy Hallelujah

The bookstore, part of Housing Works that was established in 1990 to help those with HIV and AIDS to have housing, was beautiful.  Lots of wood, an upper level balcony, a cafe at the back, and tremendously helpful staff at the front (all volunteers).  The selection of books was terrific and inspiring.  My intellectual thirst, for lack of a less pretentious way of saying it, was firing on all cylinders.  Yee haw!

There were seats set up for the event and I, after checking out the books on the balcony, saved a seat for myself.  I got some healthy goodness from the cafe and settled in.

The crowds were starting to gather.

At 11 am, the New York City Chorale began to sing.  It was glorious.  A free concert that would cost a lot I imagine under normal circumstances.  It was a small segment of the Chorale, I believe and they were giving their time to sing – and have folks sing along as they liked.

For an hour, they sang.  They took requests and had people from the crowd come up and sing with them.

Holy cow holy cow holy cow holy cow.

There are places like this that are non-profit and that care for others and have volunteers and have marathons and professional choirs sing carols and I was verklempt.

I stayed for part of the Dickens Marathon after and that was also amazing.  The actors/artists/writers read from the two balconies and the audience was entranced.

I don’t know that I am a good enough writer to do this event the justice that it deserves.  This was a highlight of my 10 days in the city.

It is something to travel alone in a city and have to figure out what you have to figure out on your own – not that NYC is the jungle (well, an urban one to be sure) but still, it is a thing. It is a thing for me anyway.  And there I was sitting in Housing Works and just feeling tremendous about it all.

Then I broke my leg.

No, ha, I joke.  No such drama.  Well, the only drama was that I then went in search of the Chelsea Market which was a crowded misery of the opposite of Housing Works I thought.

I stumbled back up to the Air BnB and waited for the evening when I would be going to the Apollo Theater to listen to some Christmas music. I don’t think I will write about the Apollo because that just feels too much like ‘white tourist has incredible Harlem experience and writes about it in her blog.’

New York City bookstores

A big part of my focus on my wee 10 day trip in New York City was to break my front tooth on a chain store bagel. I accomplished that almost immediately! Bravo. It was a cinnamon raisin bagel slathered in awesome amounts of cream cheese at a DD (full name withheld to protect the chain name) very near where I was staying. I knew that if I didn’t eat at the Air BnB, then I was less likely to be called out for crumbs on the floor (see previous note for more on that). The bagel was chewy (‘Well, of course, a chain store bagel,” noted Air BnB hostess when I told her. I hung my head.) and then suddenly, it was also crunchy. Crunchy-chewy. Chewy-crunchy. Crewy? Chunchy? Forgive me, I have had insomnia and had to work a two hour (yup) shift early this morning. This is tough on an older gal.
Where was I? Oh yes, so then it was crunchy and I thought hmmm. Then I ran my tongue over my two front teeth, both of which had cheap veneers to make up for their extreme chipped-ness because no mouth guard for years and an ice chewing obsession. Sure enough, one tooth was back to its old self. Gack! So there I was on the subway taking selfies of my front teeth so I could see what the heck. Later, when I called the dental receptionist back in Vancouver, she suggested that I don’t eat on my front teeth at all over the next week until I could see the dentist.
My other focus was bookstores. Vancouver used to have bookstores other than the big chain one, but now it really doesn’t. It has about two independent bookstores and a few used bookshops but nothing that makes me go wow wow wow. I went to six bookstores in NYC and here is the list – might be of interest if you ever plan to visit or just like reading about bookstores. I love reading about bookstores.
1. Strand Bookstore – main store – 828 Broadway – I know I shouldn’t have been but I was disappointed. I’d been to Strand in 2005 and was so excited about going back. Strand is a mix of new and used books and it is huge. It also has some neato non-book items. Part of my disappointment might have had to do with the fact that I went on my first full day when I was still jetlagged. Dale, Luc, and I (see previous post to see who these fellows are) went together and while they found a lot to buy, I didn’t find anything. Not sure why – perhaps if I had spent more time in the used section, I might have found more. We also went on a weekend day so, yeah. I didn’t find their selection of new books that interesting. I wouldn’t worry about Strand though, it is super popular. It shall carry on without me I am happy to say.
2. Sisters Uptown Bookstore – “The only black-owned bookstore in Manhattan” 1942 Amsterdam Avenue. I googled bookstores as one does and found out that this was a short-ish walk from where I was staying. I got lost but a nice gentleman showed me the way. New Yorkers aren’t assholes and in fact are nice to tourists. He showed me to the door of this small bookstore and cultural center and awesome levels of awesomeness abounded. The employees were super friendly, the art on sale amazing, and a great selection of books. Very cozy and lovely and thank god it exists.
3. Book Culture – 4 locations. I was at the 2915 Broadway store and the one near Columbia University, 536 W. 112th Avenue. I didn’t even know this store existed but found it as I was heading back to the subway from a visit to a Barnes & Noble location. A lovely layout in both stores, some nice non-book stuff and a great selection of academic and non-academic books. The second floor of the Columbia University location has a lot of excellent used books. The Columbia store is much more focussed on academic books.
4. Bluestockings – 172 Allen Street, East Village. I happened upon this bookstore on my way to the Tenement Museum. It is a pretty hardcore feminist bookstore and there were some interesting titles.
5. Barnes & Noble – 555 5th Avenue and 2285 Broadway – say what you will about chain bookstores and I’ve never found Barnes & Noble in Bellingham to have anything of interest. But the 5th Avenue store in particular was excellent – and the staff super knowledgeable and helpful. Lots of cool New York City stuff too. A great magazine selection, particularly literary magazines.
6. Housing Works – 126 Crosby Street. This used bookstore was so amazing that it is going to get its own note at another time.
I had also wanted to go to Greenpoint Books in Brooklyn but I never made it to Brooklyn.
I ended up buying a good number of books and a few magazines. And the thing is, there are many, many more bookstores to be discovered when I go back to the Big Apple.
I’ll write about Housing Works Bookshop and Cafe in the next installment. It was an oasis. It was incredible and great Christmas carols!!