Wednesday, December 31, 2008

last year's new year's resolutions revisited

where was i this time last year? let's take a look at last year's new year's resolutions and see what i have accomplished (or not accomplished) in 2008.

1. i will not drink any alcohol for the entire month of january.
i stuck with this resolution pretty well, although i have to say it is SO hard not to drink when you are surrounded by bar culture and the main activity amongst your friends and neighbors is binge drinking. i think i eventually compromised and said i would only have 1 drink on weeknights (if i went out) and 2 on weekends, and i stuck to that for several months.

2. i will write a novel. i have not set a date for its completion, but i will have a substantial novel that i will be working on.
i totally nailed this one! i am about halfway through my novel. go me!

3. i will perform burlesque in public.
this one took a backseat to novel writing. however i did have a small tassel twirling exhibition on my 30th birthday, so maybe that counts for something. the bolshevik has kindly asked that i do not bare my chest in front of others. i feel that this is a reasonable request that i shall honor for the duration of our relationship.

4. i will continue going to the gym regularly and aim for 2.5 times a week
i have been trying to go to the gym 3 times a week, but i'd say i average 2 times a week. as this is more often than i have ever exercised in my life, i would say i'm doing fairly well on this one.

5. i will not go after "players" anymore.
if you were to examine my dating record, you would see that i did indeed fall for one player in 2008 (but it was early 2008! i was still new to this non-player thing!) anyway, i am proud to say that the bolshevik is not a player, not at all. so in the end, better late than never, i succeeded with this resolution.

so really, the only thing i didn't accomplish in 2008 was more public nude performance. i'd say that 2008 was a pretty successful year.

and as we look towards 2009, what glorious things do i want to accomplish?
  1. i'd like to complete my novel (then i'd like to get it published, and then i'd like to become famous and be a guest on Oprah and/or the Tyra Banks show, even though i find both Oprah and Tyra Banks to be obnoxious)

  2. i would like to lose my prednisone weight and become super svelte again (i am fighting the unsvelteness vigilantly, and yet i have made no strides. i merely maintain the same level of unsvelteness)

  3. i would like to balance my personal budget, and live in a more fiscally sound manner (when i transfer to my new branch i will be able to get rid of my car! that will give me a couple hundred bucks extra a month. yay!)

  4. i hope to maintain the healthy and satisfying relationship that i have with my beloved bolshevik. being in a non-toxic relationship is fun, and i encourage you all to try it sometime.

  5. general improvements: i would like to be more tidy, i'd like to be kinder to people, i'd like to improve my wardrobe, i'd like to cook more, and i'd like to let people "in" more.

and that dear blog readers is about as introspective as i'm going to get on this snowy new year's eve.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

yum

as promised, here is the bolshevic's picture of the costa rican snack food we picked up at the gas station and ate in lieu of lunch.

at the top in the light blue are the vanilla sticks (our favorite), then going clockwise are the pineapple empanadas (just ok), the "caramel" filled cupcakes (bad), a peach likigurt (peach yogurt drink that was quite tasty), and the twinkie shaped "caramel" cakes.

so here is my breakdown of costa rica:
pros: beautiful scenery, rainforests, untouched beaches, amazing adventures, friendly and helpful locals, ecologically conscious, fresh yet simple meals
cons: poorly constructed road system, bad snack food

that's right ... you heard it here folks.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

tis the season

oh holiday time is so exciting ... here's some news:

first off, we had an excellent holiday party. my fab assistant spearheaded a project to get people to donate little toys and gifts for the kids. mostly this was from library employees, many of whom were quite generous, but also from some parents of our "regulars."

i came up with the idea of reading the little kids holiday themed picture books and serving them hot chocolate. it was really cute. and it's amazing how exciting hot chocolate can be. i mean, it's only like $2.5o a box but you throw some marshmallows in there and suddenly you've got something pretty awesome. (much like the power of googley eyes. but do NOT put googley eyes in hot chocolate. that would be bad) anyhoo, we also made angels out of paper plates (pics to be shown later) and my assistant led the kids in some christmas songs while they worked on their crafts. then we had all the kids sit down and we called their names out one by one and gave them presents. each child got one or two books and a toy. all gift wrapped by yours truly and her amazing assistant.

it sounds cliche, but these kids faces lit up when they opened their presents. they were SO happy. and these weren't huge amazing presents or anything. for instance, i donated a "princess set" which is a very cheap plastic set of pink jewelry with accompanying tiara. it cost $4. i decided to give it to this little hispanic girl who comes in all the time and is struggling to learn english to keep up with her 1st grade class. she LOVED it. she had the biggest smile on her face.

one of the things i love about the kids that i work with, is that they really appreciate all the little things. i mean, they so often get shafted, so when you give them a little $4 present they get really excited. and the parents were appreciative too. as the kids were all collecting their candy canes on their way out, you could see that the parents were really thankful to have us in the community. not to get all sappy on you, but it was really quite special.

and it made me a little bit sad that i will be leaving library in the hood.

say what?!

oh, with all the costa rica excitement i forgot to tell you my beloved blog readers, that i am being transferred to another branch! effective very very soon! it's on the 7 train. oh how i love the 7! i can get rid of the fancy mobile (repairs on which are really a drag).

yes yes yes, the latter half of 2008 has been quite interesting (the beginning half of 2008 was totally sucky. SUCKY!) actually, it's not even the latter half ... it's really like the latter third of 2008. let us recount all the joyous things that happened from september 2008 onward:

1. i finally noticed the bolshevik
2. i went to costa rica with said bolshevik
3. i get to look forward to a "fresh start" at a new branch
4. i get to leave my branch on a high note, knowing that i was a positive influence in the lives of many community members

in conclusion ....
i rock.
happy holidays.

costa rica adventures: we end with a trip in a miniscule plane

since we lost an entire day due to my passport woes, the bolshevik and i tried to think of ways to make up time. on our last day we had planned to drive our SUV back to san jose for our afternoon flight back home. after having learned how deceitful the road maps are, i use our navigation system to deduce that this will actually take about 4 hours. at best. so the bolshevik comes up with the clever idea of dropping off our rental car at nearby tamarindo beach, and taking a plane from tamarindo to san jose, which is only a 45 minute flight. he is so very clever that bolshevik.

so on our last day we wake up around 7 am and spend our last hours of vacation at the beach. the bolshevik hides in the shade of a coconut tree, while i do yoga in the sand. then i have a quick swim in the ocean, and we return to our hotel for our last casados ever. so sad.

after dropping off our trusty SUV, we are driven to the "airport" which is really just a big awning with a couple of benches and small stand selling gum and water. don't let the picture fool you, there was no indoor space at the airport. there was also no security, no x-rays, no metal detectors, no luggage carousel. nothing. so we sit on a bench and wait. there are about 6 other people sitting around waiting as well and i start to worry that this is going to be a seriously small plane we are flying in. i hate planes. especially small planes. it is aroud this time that i decide to take some xanax, and concentrate on feeling anxious.

then our plane lands, and i watch as the one aiport worker loads our luggage up. we board the plane and i believe i count 12 seats. this is definitely the smallest plane i have ever been in. not only can i see the cockpit from our seats, but there is no divider or anything between us and the pilots. i could have easily chatted with the pilots, given them some constructive criticism on flying, pointed out areas of note from the air, etc etc. you know, had i not been paralyzed with fear, i could have been quite social. other plane passengers seemed to be having a fine time, making jokes and patting each other on the back. fools. all of them.

i spend the first half of the trip clutching onto my backpack for dear life, while also digging my nails into the bolshevik's arm. he is such a good sport. after a while i calm down slightly and the bolshevik tries to distract me with more car games.

we eventually make it to san jose alive, and we have just enough time to stop by the duty free shop before boarding our plane. i pick up some chocolate covered pineapple, as i am determined to find good snack food.

the plane ride home is uneventful. and since i had just had that terrifying small plane experience, i was SO well behaved on the real plane. i should have gotten one of those pins with the plane wings on them that they give to kids. or extra pretzels.

there was no one in the third seat in our row, so the bolshevik and i are able to spread out a bit. we spend most of the trip watching flight of the conchords episodes on my laptop, while eating chocolate covered pineapple (SO good).

and thus concludes our costa rican adventures.

the end.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

costa rican adventures: canopy tours, low quality snacks & leatherback turtles

we wake up at 5:30 am, thinking it is 6:30, because i forgot that the bolshevik hadn't set the clock on his cell phone to costa rica time. we don't realize this until we arrive at the main cabin for breakfast and there is no one there.

after breakfast the bolshevik tries to take some video with his fancy pants camera, but within about two minutes his camera shuts down due to overexposure to moistness. rainforests ... seriously rainy. take heed.

we arrive at selvatura park and we are quickly outfitted in harnesses and caribeeners and yellow hard hats, then herded into a bus which, after a long wait, drives us about 500 feet from where we started. then we are given an informative demonstration on how canopy-ing works. here's how it works:

you're in a harness.
they attach you to a long cable via pulleys and caribeeners.
then you zip through the rainforest on said long cable.

there was more to it than that, but i am summarizing for the sake of entertainment. so we are zipping through the rainforest on cables and it is pretty damned cool. the bolshevik suggests that i "look down," to which i reply, "hell no i won't look down!" but then on the next cable we zip through the trees and then suddenly we are over a huge valley and i look down to see all the treetops below me, and the mountains around me, and it was all very awesome. and i think to myself, i really hope i don't slow down and get stuck on this cable, leaving me hanging several hundred feet above the rainforest. that would be bad. but luckily that didn't happen.

then we did the "tarzan swing." pretty much, instead of zipping across via cable, the nice workers at selvatura attach a rope to your harness and then they lift you by the ass and toss you gently off a very high platform. then you swing like a pendulum off of a cliff. this was slightly terrifying, but once you swing back and slow down a bit it's pretty fun. they let you swing back and forth, until they eventually slow you down enough to rope you in with a device the bolshevik cleverly named "the tourist catcher." the tourist catcher is an oversized padded elastic band which they sort of lasso around you in order to get you down off the tarzan rope.

there is some debate about whether or not canopy tours are harmful to the forest. and although i'm sure the forest would be better off without canopy tours. it was really cool, and i think the damage to the trees was minimal. i mean, i didn't even slam into one tree. not even once.

i would like to add a little note here about costa rica ... when i called to reschedule our tour, there was no "oh it's non-transferrable" or "there's no rain dates" or "didn't you read the fine print" or "of course a non-expired passport is invalid." they don't have red tape. you just ask them to do something reasonable and they work with you. i heart costa rica.

so after our canopy fun we set off for playa grande. yay, warmth and beachiness! after an hour or so we finally move from "unpaved road" to an actual real road! with asphalt and everything! even though this maked the driving easier, it's not as fun or scenic. we make such good time that we decide to skip lunch and just buy costa rican snacks at the gas station instead.

now, i have noticed that when you leave the US they have much better snack food. at least in europe and australia. but i have to warn you that snack food is NOT something costa ricans are excelling at. i know, you are disillusioned by this information. shocked even. those of you contemplating travelling to costa rica, thinking that it is a magical land full of amazing processed snacks will be very disappointed. here's what we ate:

pinapple samosas - crusty samosa type snacks with pinapple filling. these were ok, but rather dry.
caramel cupcakes - little cupcakes supposedly filled with caramel. these downright sucked. it was like a little flavorless muffin with some dried up stuff in the center prentending to be caramel.
twinkie shaped pastry - turns out these are the exact same thing as the caramel cupcakes except that they're shaped like twinkies
vanilla sticks - these were long straw-like tubes that at first bite taste like vanilla flavored tree bark and have the consistency of chewing a thin layer of rubber. however, after you eat about 4 or 5 of them they are surprisingly good. addictive even. these were our favorite, by far.

photographic evidence of these snacks will later be provided by the bolshevik.

finally we arrive at hotel las tortugas. and despite the bolshevik's aversion to sunlight, he accompanies me to the beach where we frolic in the ocean until the sun sets and all the surfers have gone.
let me just take a minute to tell you about playa grande: the owners of our hotel fought to have playa grande turned into a reserve for sea turtles, so it is located smack in the middle of a pristine 3 km strip of untouched beach. after sunset you aren't allowed on the beach because they don't want people interferring with the turtles nesting season. but you are allowed to go on the beach with a guided "turtle tour," given by the Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas. so that is what we did.
our reservation is for 12:30 at night (we had to nap after dinner so that we were prepared for such late night activity, since i had accidentally started our day at 5:30 am). we walk over to the ranger station and wait with a large group of people. after a while we are ushered into a room where we watch a very poorly made power point presentation about leatherback sea turtles. but then we watch an informative video about how that park was made and it showed a little baby sea turtle trying to make it's way to the ocean after it had just hatched. it was SO cute.
after the video we are told we have to wait at the ranger station until a turtle is spotted on the beach. they warn us that this could take hours, if at all. now this is my favorite part (aside from actually seeing a sea turtle) ... they tell us we don't have to pay unless we see a turtle. so unlike those whale watching scams and other tourist rip-offs you have in the states, we only have to pay if we receive the service we signed up for. i heart costa rica: land of reasonableness.
after about 45 minutes of waiting, we are told a sea turtle has been spotted and we all caravan to the beach. we walk through the sand for a while until we approach a huge sea turtle. we circle around the sea turtle (which i'd say is about as large as a medium sized coffee table), and there are all these scientists and volunteers helping her dig her hole and holding flashlights and patting sand. it's all very exciting. and we are standing mere feet from this. mere feet! we're watching her flippers clear away sand, and then we actually watch her lay eggs! (they were larger than chicken eggs, and more round). and then we watch her cover up the eggs with sand. so cool.
my one beef with the turtle tour is that i would have liked to watch her completely cover her eggs and then return to the ocean. i overheard someone say that it actually takes over an hour for her to cover the eggs up and that she even gets twigs and stuff to hide the nest. that would have been fascinating! i want to see a giant turtle lay sticks down! how would she even grab a stick? we didn't get back to our hotel until after 3 am, so maybe they felt that another hour would be too long, but i would have liked the option of just sitting on the beach and waiting for her to return to the sea all triumphant. but it was pretty interesting nonetheless so i shouldn't complain.
and thus conludes yet another action packed day in central america.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

costa rican adventures: volcanoes and karaoke

we wake up at 6:30 am to the sound of a monsoon pouring down on our cabin, the wind whipping through trees. it is truly a cloudy rainy cloud forest. at breakfast we eat casados which is our new favorite thing, and i sample some costa rican coffee. tastes like regular coffee. then we accomplish 4 things (besides eating)

1. we re-schedule our canopy tour for the following day (thereby pushing back our arrival time at the beach)
2. we get the lovely staff at the hotel to dry our clothes from the night before, since laying them out to dry overnight did absolutely nothing
3. we "rent" ponchos from the front desk, but when i ask cuanto cuestan? i am told they cost nothing. the clerk says this as though it is obvious that renting ponchos would be a free service. i heart costa rica.
4. we decide that since it is raining, we should drive around the lake to the volcano in la fortuna so that we can go in the hot springs. we have been so cold and damp, we need a little hot springs.

now, on the map the volcano looks as though it's right around the corner. in actuality it is 3.5 hours drive. damned these crazy costa rican roads. but even though the driving is difficult, it is kind of fun, so we play our car games (turns out the bolshevik knows way more political leaders than i do) and we look at the scenery and have a fine old time.

then we see this crazy creature in the road. it kind of looks like a cross between a monkey and a raccoon. it is SO cute, so we get out of the car to take pictures. suddenly there are like 15 of them surrounding us, but luckily they are friendly enough not to attack us.

we eventually make it to la fortuna and we see the volcano, but alas due to fog we are unable to see the top of the volcano. but it was pretty obvious that it was a volcano. i swear.

then we try to find eco termales, which is the name of the hot springs place we found in our trusty guidebook. our handy navigation system tells us that we have arrived at our destination but there is no entrance or sign or anything except for two large wooden doors with a little call box. now, approaching a call box and big ominous doors is intimidating enough without the added pressure of having to speak in spanish. but i muddle through my spanish and they open the doors for us.

inside it's a tropical hot spring wonderland. there are pools filled with water heated by the volcano. there's a little bar and lounge chairs and waterfalls and rock formations. it's divine. so we get ourselves some cocktails and spend several hours splashing around in the warm water while we are gently misted with rain (it never quite stops raining in the cloud forest)

on our drive home we stop at a local bar on the side of the road, in hopes of getting some casados for dinner. the bar is an open air structure with a dirt floor and an assortment of farm equipment and logs and hay for decoration. i am a little worried for our safety when we approach. we had heard a lot of stories about robberies and violence towards tourists. but when we get inside we see there are about 5 guys there (including employees) and they are singing karaoke in spanish. after we order our food, they all come up to us and ask us where we're from and if we're going to sing and do we like to dance, etc etc. so friendly. so of course i ask if they have any musica en ingles, and i am given a short and random list of american songs. i decide to sing I Will Survive. who doesn't love donna summer? i ask you. the crowd (ie the 5 people in the bar) went wild. ok, actually they just applauded with a moderate amount of enthusiasm, but whatevs. it's good to see that cultural divides can be overcome through the power of karaoke.

when we arrive back to our hotel the lights are still on, so we are able to light our one candle, and i proceed yet again to make my pathetic attempts at building a fire. and thus ends another day of fabulous costa rican adventures.

... to be continued ...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

costa rica adventures: things get brighter, then seriously foggy

we wake up on friday morning in a much better frame of mind. i am still hivey, but less so. and the bolshevik and i are just thrilled that we finally made it out of the tri-state area.

we sit on this lovely patio dining area, and have what the costa ricans refer to as casados which means "typical meal." their typical meal includes rice & beans, eggs (scrambled or fried), a couple slices of cheese, a few slices of tomato, a selection of fresh fruits, coffee or tea, and fresh squeezed fruit juices (we had the option of orange juice, watermelon juice or "mixed fruits"). pretty sweet. dare i say that the boshelvik and i first bonded way back when over our mutual love of brunch (although it may still be a point of contention that he prefers pancakes to waffles). anyhoo, you can imagine that we were very pleased with this spread.

after breakfast we waited for our car and took a short stroll aroung the grounds of our hotel. even though the hotel wasn't in an area known for natural beauty (ie next to the airport), it really was very pretty. there were paths and trees and little benches and exotic flowers. very nice place to wait for your rental car people to pick you up.

by 9 or so we get in our trusty SUV (with GPS) aaaaand ... we're off!

aaaaaaand ... we're lost! turns out that costa ricans don't believe in road signs. anywhere. no road signs. why label your roads? i guess if you don't already know how to get where you're going you probably don't want it enough and therefore are not worthy of being shown the way. but after driving in circles for a little while our handy little GPS system finally kicked in and got us onto the panamerican highway. it was about this time that the bolshevik remarked that once we got on the "real highway" we would probably make excellent time. and then i informed him that this small two-lane highway was actually the biggest road in costa rica. and that is when the GPS system chimed in with it's lovely automaton faux british accent, "in .2 ... miles ... turn ... onto ... unpaved road." turns out almost every road in costa rica is named "unpaved road."

so we are having a fine time getting jostled up and down as we drive over huge potholes on our unpaved rocky muddy costa rica road. we pass beautiful sights and hop out of the car to take pictures now and again. it's kind of like driving some adventure video game, where you have to keep both hands gripped tightly to the wheel while you get bounced around. after a while we get the hang out of it, and start playing a car game that our friends the Confined Nomads taught us. so we're having a fine time, no? it's a costa rica driving adventure, right?

suddenly, with no warning from our GPS system we approach a small bridge that is very obviously "out," and i don't mean that it's gay. it has two huge piles of rubble blocking the entrance, and it is quite apparent that we are not supposed to drive on it. then off to the side is a steep gravel ramp of sorts that leads to a small river. it is at this point that the bolshevik remembers reading something about how in costa rica sometimes you have to drive through rivers. and lo and behold as we are wondering whether or not to drive through this river, a little subaru outback comes zipping past us, through the river and onto the other side of the road. so we decide to go for it, thanking our lucky stars that we upgraded from our compact car.

as we are bravely traversing a river in our SUV, we notice that those big metal things that hold up bridges (columns? i-beams?) are no longer attached to the bridge beside us. they're just hanging out in the water, leaning against some rocks, while the bridge above it is supported by nothing. glad we didn't try to cross that one.

it takes us several hours but we finally make it to santa elena. during our car trip i tried to think of some phrases i could use on a pharmacist so that he or she might take pity on me and give me some cortisone. since i have no idea how to say "hivey" in spanish, i settle on soy allergica a los todos el mundo. necessita prednisone.

anyhoo, we walk around santa elena a bit, get some helado, and that is when the bolshvik spots a pharmacy. so i go in and try to give it my best shot. there's a young woman sitting behind the counter sucking on a lollipop while reading a magazine. i quickly realize that this will be easier than i thought. i don't even give my sad sad allergic story. instead, i merely say necessita prednisone. then, get this, she stands up and grabs a box with the words "prednisone 5 mg" and says "esto?" and my dear blog readers, without a prescription and without any explanation of my medical woes, i am sold 50 mg of prednisone for the bargain price of $3. i heart costa rica.

as it is too late in the day to start any true adventures, we make a reservation for a canopy tour (more info on that later) for the following day. then we go to the ranario, frog pond, where we see all these cool tropical frogs. turns out the boslshevik loves frogs. who knew? then we get back into our SUV for the oncoming adventure of finding our hotel.

the navigation system gets us a bit turned around and we wind up leaving and returning to santa elena several times. i believe it was the third time that i helpfully pointed out, "there's the ranario again," (much in the style of clark griswald in european vacation when he keeps saying "look kids, big ben!" fyi: there is no traffic circle by big ben). and that dear blog readers is when the bolshevik and i got into our first fight. but we got over it fairly quickly.

on the drive further up the mountain to our hotel we are suddenly enshrouded in mist. turns out the monteverde cloud forest is not just a clever name. it is seriously cloudy up there. we drive down a long private road, boucing around for several miles, and when we are truly in the middle of nowhere we see a cluster of green cabins on a hillside. we assume that they are overlooking a beautiful view of mountains and valleys. but due to massive fog we can't actually see past the cabins.

so we are given our very own huge cabin (this thing could easily sleep 4-5 people), with a wood burning stove and candles for "lights out." turns out this place is run on generated electricty, and the power is shut off every night at 10 pm.

we grab a quite bite to eat in the main cabin, which kind of looks like a tropical ski lodge, and then head back down the mountain for our night time rainforest tour. when we get to our SUV, a small monsoon has begun and the fog is so thick we can barely see 5 feet in front of us. oh but my courageous bolshevik drove us down the mountain safely.

after our tour (in which we got rained on a lot and we saw a tarantula), i drive us back up the mountain through the fog and rain to our hotel. they don't call it the rain forest for nothing. and apparently it rains outside the forest as well. when we get there it is completely dark, even the little light posts on the pathways between the cabins have been turned off. since we don't have a flashlight, we wind up using our navigation system as a light source, trying to shine it on the pathway. the bolshevik and i run up and down several different pathways getting soaked in the rain trying to find our cabin.

after running up to numberous cabins, we finally correctly identify and enter our cabin. we putter around in the dark for a while, lighting candles and attempting to start a fire. why didn't i pay more attention when the men in my family were making fires all through my childhood? drenched to the bone, the bolshevik and i cuddle in front of the pathetic fire i build ... thus ending another day of costa rican adventures.

to be continued ...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

costa rica adventures: day one in which shit hits the fan

ok blog readers, let's begin at the beginning. day one. our flight was scheduled to leave at 8 am, and as a punctual person i tow the line and always follow the rule regarding arriving at the airport 2 hours early for international flights. the bolshevik does not believe in this rule. he thinks it's bullshit. but as i was the one booking our cab to newark, i was the one who got to call the shots. the shots being that we arrived at the airport at 5:30 am. okay, so that's a little too early, but better early than late! anyway, my beloved bolshevik was very good humored about the whole thing and proceeded to lightheartedly poke fun at me as we waited in line to check in. of course, that was before we made it to the counter and i was told i was not allowed on the plane.

say what?!

that's right. the woman at the continental airlines counter told me i was not allowed on the plane. you are probably asking yourselves, "but why, miss dewey decimal? surely you are an upstanding citizen who should be allowed on commercial aircrafts?" well, i would tend to agree with you (except for the time i shouted out "we're all going to die" in a particularly scary bit of turbulence. but in my defense it really was some scary turbulence. and that was years ago. pre-9/11).

anyway, the reason i was not allowed on the plane is because my passport is expiring soon. now of course i checked my passport expiration date before i left, and it doesn't expire until the end of the month. so i deduced that since it wasn't expired at the time that i was leaving, nor would it be expired by the time i returned, then i was okay. but apparently, having your passport be close to expiring is just as good as having it actually be expired. this leads me to wonder what the point is of even having an expiration date at all if your passport can be considered "invalid" before it has actually expired. and according to the lovely staff at continental airlines this is information i should have looked up on my own. i should have wondered if travelling with a passport that wasn't actually expired would be a problem. oh yeah, that seems so likely.

so the arguments went something like this:
continental airlines staff: well, it is up to the traveler to make sure all their documents are valid.
me: but it is valid! it doesn't expire until the end of the month!
continental airlines staff: it is the traveler's responsibility to make sure that their documents are valid in regards to the country they are travelling to.
me: but why would i even think that my non-expired passport may be a problem?
continental airlines staff: it's the traveler's responsibility ....
and so on and so on.

so then the continental woman started printing out the bolshevik a boarding pass! like the bolshevik would just go to costa rica without me! i believe i shouted something like, "he's not going to costa rica without me!" to which the bolshevik nodded in agreement, and then she put the bolshevik on a standby flight for 5 pm that day. but she refused to put me on a stand-by flight, saying that she couldn't because my passport is "expired." then we proceeded to get into the above-mentioned argument all over again.

fast forward to 7:00 am when the bolshevik and i took a cab from newark airport to the passport agency in downtown manhattan. i got some passport pictures taken at a bodega next door (seriously, is there anything you can't get at a bodega?) then the woman at the passport agency told me that i cannot get an "emergency passport" unless i have proof of my intent to travel (and my ticket for a plane that left newark 5 minutes prior to this conversation was not proof enough). so we went through the back and forth of how i can't get on a flight roster without a passport, and i can't get a passport until i'm on a flight roster. grrrrrr.

but finally after a call to continental, i got some very helpful person to officially put me and the bolshevik on the standby flight and she promised to email me the flight info asap. back to the bodega where, for a small fee, i was able to check my email and then print out my travel itinerary. seriously, i heart bodegas.

i was told i could return at noon for my shiny new passport, so the bolshevik and i tried to kill some time in the big bad city. did i mention it was cold and rainy that day? did i mention that we were dressed like two people who were only lightly layered because they assumed they'd be on a plane to costa rica? anyway, the bolshevik and i had a very nice breakfast, then did some shopping at macys. of course everywhere we went people assumed that we were tourists, as we had our luggage in tow. "oh, are you visiting new york? where are you from?" they'd ask. "no," we'd answer sadly, "we're from brooklyn ... it's a long story."

by 1 pm i had my passport in hand, but we still had several hours to kill before our flight. running out of things to do, we decided to catch a movie. it was while we were in the movie theater that i realized my ankle was getting really hivey. now, i had been hive free for a few weeks, but i think the stress of the morning's ordeal had brought them back out again. by the time we got to the airport my whole ankle was swollen. and it was around this time that i realized i only had enough cortisone for the length of my trip. no extra cortisone for this kind of emergency. what was i thinking? i mean, growing up my mom had a whole pharmacy of prescription drugs in her purse at all times. why hadn't i been more prepared?

we made our 5 pm flight, and by the time we landed in costa rica it was about 11 pm and we were completely exhausted. i hobbled behind the bolshevik with my swollen hivey ankle, and as we made our way to the car rental counter, i cursed myself silently for having ruined our vacation. we lost a day because of me, and it looked as though i'd be all hivey and annoying. why would someone as awesome as the bolshevik want to hang around with me? obviously, i am nothing but problems.

the car rental guys explained to us that the area we were going to, santa elena, was several hours drive and that the roads there are really bad and there was a bridge out and pretty much we would be crazy to attempt going there that night. they also told us that it would be completely impossible for us to drive to santa elena in the compact car that we reserved. to sum up, if we wanted to make it to santa elena alive we'd need an SUV and we'd need to drive said SUV the following morning. so we agree that we would upgrade to an SUV, and we even decided to pay an extra $8/day for a GPS.

then (this is the awesome part) they offered to drive us to a hotel nearby and offered to pick us up after breakfast, and rent us the SUV then (thus saving us one whole day of car rental fees). how nice is that? so they drive us (for free) to a cheap but clean hotel nearby, telling us they will pick us up at 8 am (for free) after we've had our complimentary breakfast.

so we're driven down all these windy rocky streets with small one-level houses with roofs made of corrugated metal, and we approach these big doors that look like they hide the operational headquarters of a drug cartel behind them. but when they opened up and we were let inside, we saw a lovely tropical garden and a small brightly colored hotel.

once in our room i soaked my hivey ankle in cold water (just an aside: the showers in costa rica are like 4 times the size of showers in the US. several people could have soaked their hivey ankles in this shower and had plenty of room), and i decided to take my entire stash of cortisone in hopes of ridding myself of hives through a drastic pharmaceutical counter attack.

and finally, after about 19 hours of travel mishaps, we fell asleep in our first cost rican hotel room.


... to be continued ...

Leer

senorita dewey decimal tiene gusto de leer in costa rica

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

is it chivalry, sexism, or are you just trying to get into my pants?

this morning i was SUPER early so i decided to stop at this new gas station in the hood where they are fancy enough to have proper tea and coffee (they even have breads and muffins! no way!). and while i was there, since i had so much time, i figured i'd buy more windshield wiper fluid. my windshield is dirty and i ran out of fluid ages ago. anyway, as i walked to my car fluid in hand i wondered to myself how long it would take before a man interrupted me, assuming that i am unable to fill my car with cleaning fluid and that he needs to come to my rescue. now, i am quite clueless when it comes to automobiles, or the horseless carriages as the kids are calling them nowadays. but i know how to do a few things:
1. i know how to pump my own gas
2. i know how to add oil, windshield wiper fluid, and coolant
3. i think i might be able to change a tire after seeing my friend mike taco do it
4. and one time i even installed a new car battery ... all by myself!
anyway, i have noticed that the moment i step towards the hood of my car men will swarm around and try to "help" me. why? do they assume that i cannot help myself due to me being a woman? are they just trying to be polite? or are they trying to look for an "in" with me? who knows. i don't know, maybe this stems from my desire not to talk to people i don't know while i am going about my business.
but as soon as i popped the hood and was fiddling with that bar that props it open, lo and behold a male passerby asked me if i needed help. did i look like i needed help? i mean, it wasn't like i was fumbling around, getting myself all covered in oil while wondering which end of the jumper cables go where (jumper cables are not even involved in adding wiper fluid! see how knowledgeable i am!). anyway, i knew what i was doing. and then there was the added insult that since we are in the big bad city, most passersby are not even drivers! what does this man know about cars?! he is most likely a pedestrian who has never owned a car in his life. i politely told him i was fine. i proceeded to add the wiper fluid and go on my merry way, spritzing my windshield happily as i drove off into the sunset.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

apparently, i am also thankful for pants

you may have noticed that i have not spoken about svelteness lately. that is because svelteness is at an all time low (weight gain being at an all time high). you may be wondering to yourselves how this could possibly be so. "how could this poissibly be so, miss dewey d?" is how your wondering probably sounds in your head. "with all your punking rope and semi-reasonable eating habits? how could this be?" well, i'll tell you ... i blame the hives.

that's right, the hives! you see, i stopped mentioning the hives. not because they have gone away, but because they are so god damned annoying i can't even stand to discuss them. but i am on some super powerful meds to keep the hives at bay, but these super powerful meds also seem to keep the svelteness at bay as well. ... oh, long lost svelteness, how you have foresaken me!

anyway, this lack of svelteness has created a bit of a problem when it comes to the issue of pants. this issue being that i can no longer fit into my tight jeans (which as a resident of billyburg is a serious problem. i am lucky i have not been ejected from The Paradise in some sort of biblical fashion).

i have implemented a new plan which i call "shock and exercise" in which i will shock my body with intense exercise in hopes of tricking it into losing weight. i am proud to say that i have been going to the gym every other day for two weeks now!

now, if you've ever had to cram your non-svelte self into a pair of tight jeans which no longer fit you, you will know that it's not a pretty sight. and it doesn't do much for the self esteem. not at all. so i broke down and bought a pair of my favorite jeans on ebay (citizens for humanity straight leg "avedon" jeans. love them. maybe one day i will tell you the story of how i contacted citizens of humanity regarding my old fave pair, which are actually limited edition and i can only assume are priceless in value).

ANYWAY, the jeans arrived yesterday and it was SO nice to put them on and feel what it feels like to have a pair of jeans not cut off the circulation to your legs. and even though this pair is a whole TWO INCHES bigger in the waist than my beloved limited edition pair, these look so much more flattering as they actually fit the current state of my body. and of course they are still "tight fitting" (but in a comfortable way) so i am not at risk of expulsion from the 'burg. phew. what a relief.

so last night at around midnight was my first opportunity to try on these new jeans, and of course i was so filled with excitement that i felt i had to tell the bolshevik about them asap. can you believe that he is not interested in discussing the crucial topic of jeans at 12:03 on a school night? what gives?! he said something about sleep and tiredness. whatevs.

and that dear blog readers is why i had to bore you with this tale. because i know you guys will be happy for me and my new jeans which make me feel a little less unsvelte (as long as i don't look at the size tag).






turkey see, turkey do


so here are some examples of the turkeys we made. on each of the feathers we wrote something we are thankful for. on the left is the turkey made by kid who hates hoboes. he is thankful for the five sense, for jobs, for his life, for poems, and for his school. mine is at right. i am thankful for my friends and family, for the people who love me, for my home, and for my education (i figured i'd throw that in there for the kids)

you may notice that we have some new fancy googley eyes! (kid who hates hoboes made use of our "eyelid" googley eyes) oh how i heart googley eyes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the story of thanksgiving: take two

many of you may remember the utter horror of last year's retelling of the story of thanksgiving. this year i gave the kids a variety of puzzles and lessons on thanksgiving, hoping that the basic concept (pilgrims came to america from england, then had big dinner with native americans) would sink in. we did crossword puzzles. we did fill in the blanks sheets. we watched a very very boring and stupid video. we played hangman. i thought i had done a decent job.

so today as we made these super cute construction paper turkeys (pictures to be posted later), i asked the dreaded question ... "so why do we celebrate thanksgiving?"

out of 9 kids (grades 4-5), only one raised her hand. i call on her and she says, "we celebrate thanksgiving because sometimes someone has a birthday near thanksgiving and we celebrate it."
yup, that girl is in 5th grade.

then kid who hates hoboes piped up and said, "we celebrate thanksgiving because the pilgrims came to america and had a feast with the native americans."

"yes!" i screamed, "that's right!"

then kid who hates hoboes went on to say that the pilgrims came from england on the mayflower. england? mayflower? where did he learn these crazy words? is it possible, dear dear blog readers, that kid who hates hoboes learned these words from me? no. he immediately told me that he learned this stuff last night after watching the charlie brown thanksgiving special on tv.

grrrrrrr.

note to self: purchase charlie brown thanksgiving dvd for library.


p.s. happy thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

a tale of questionable morality

i was in the keyfood buying groceries. i am trying to cook more in these tough economic times. i was on line, and the woman in front of me was still loading up her groceries. she stepped down towards the end of the aisle so that she could start bagging her items and i noticed a neatly folded $20 bill on the ground. at first i thought she must have dropped it. and although i contemplated telling her that she dropped it, i decided to wait. why should i tell her there's $20 on the floor? these are trying times dear blog readers and miss dewey d could use the cash. i contemplated rolling my cart over the bill so no one would see it but i thought that was unfair. if this woman would notice before she left, then the $20 was hers. sounds fair, no?

around this time a man who looked like a floor manager type seemed to be eyeing me. did he know? was he on to me? was this some sort of perverse sociological experiement to see what lengths people would go to for a small amount of extra cash. (i did this once in college, it involved gluing several quarters to my dorm carpet) but i digress.

then i saw the woman take out her wallet. a clue! if she hadn't taken her wallet out yet, how could the $20 be hers? and she was paying with a debit card! more likely, the $20 was dropped a while ago and no one spotted it yet. this could be anyone's $20. and if it could be anyone's, why can't it be mine? convenient rationalization or crtitical thinking? who's to say.

she left and when i took my spot by the cashier i stepped on the $20, covering it from view. then i bent down all sly like i was going to tie my shoe, and i picked that baby up and pocketed it. the perfect crime.

so i paid for my groceries, which were surprisingly expensive, and i made my way towards the door. then the manager gave me a knowing look and told me to "have a nice evening." what did he mean by that?!

but i think i got away with it. unless there is footage of me on some survellience camera, cleverly scheming away while pretending to peruse in touch magazine.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

revenge and daily facial peel never tasted so sweet


bam, son! that's right, that's my package!

thursday i got a call back from customer service telling me that mr. postmaster had located my package. i was even told that mr. postmaster would deliver it to my house then and there. of course i wasn't at the paradise, i was at work. it seems that the post office has yet to figure out that 95% of people are not in their homes during typical postal delivery hours. anyway. i was then told that if i had any problems picking up my package the following day i should ask for mr. postmaster and he would solve all of my package pick-up needs (my main need being for someone to give me my package).

so friday i walk into the post office feeling triumphant. my package will be kept from me NO MORE! there was no line, and of course there was no one at the package pick-up window. i waited for about 5 minutes and finally Evil Pick-Up Window Woman appeared. she did not greet me with her typical salutation of, "why are you here? i've already told you i don't have your package." instead, she allowed me to speak.

"i received a call yesterday saying that a mr. postmaster had located my package and i could pick it up today." and lo and behond instead of giving me an attitude or denying the existence of my package, Evil Pick-Up Window Woman actually went and got my package! and then she did something completely unprecedented ... she handed my package to me!

(you thought i was going to say she apologized? hell no she did not apologize. but she had this tail-between-her-legs look like she was hoping and praying i wouldn't call her out on the fact that she is not only a complete bitch but also totally incompetant)

dear blog readers, i took the high road. i did not say a word. i just took my package and strode proudly out of the post office, hopefully never to return again.

the end.

p.s. my daily facial peel is fab! i expect to see massive results within a few days! yay!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

post office blues

i have never been one of those people to hate the post office. on the contrary, the people in the greenpoint post office have been nothing short of lovely. they are SO nice there. but not the williamsburg post office, which is now my official post office. the people in the williamsburg post office are downright mean. mean isn't even strong enough of a word. they are cruel and heartless there. not to mention highly incompetent. i could stand the meanness if they were at least efficient.

so there is this super expensive daily face peel that i LOVE. it's SO good. the bolshevik has been stealing it for me from his roommate on the sly. but his roommate will soon be moving out (this is a very good thing), so i will no longer have access to the face peel. anyway, i found it on ebay and was able to get a good deal on a 60-day supply. so i order it. and i have it sent to my house. sounds simple, no?

i had the package sent to my house, big mistake. i notice after about a week and a half that i haven't received the face peel. so i contact the seller on ebay and she tells me that she had sent it out immediately and that she got a confirmation that the post office had attempted to deliver it to me weeks ago, but i wasn't home. so i check the usps website and see that in fact they had tried to deliver my package on 11/3 and that they were now keeping it at the post office. but they didn't leave any sort of notification slip AND they never tried to redeliver it in the weeks since then.

so i go to the post office on saturday 11/15 and i wait in line. i notice that the woman behind the counter is rather rude. she keeps rolling her eyes every time someone asks her to look for something. mind you, she is working the pick-up window so looking for packages is her sole job. when i get there i hand her my tracking number and tell her that i am looking for my package and that i never got a notification and this is my tracking number. she picks up the piece of paper, rolls her eyes and says "what is this?" i repeat to her that it is my tracking number. she tells me i need to stand aside and write down my name and address for her.

a minute later i return to the line with paper in hand showing my name and address. i give it to her and she disappears for 15 minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES! trust me, i timed it. at one point i saw her talking on the phone standing conspicuously close to a container of chinese take-out. i then rapped on the glass and said, "could you please stop talking on your cell phone and please start looking for my package?" it's polite to say "please."

when she returns she tells me that she heard me tapping on the window and that she wasn't talking on a cell phone. it was a regular phone. then she tells me that she cannot find my package and that the manager is working with the money and cannot look it up on the computer. i don't know what that means. but she says she will take my number and call me when she finds my package. i ask her if she could look for it again and she refuses.

at this point i am so pissed off i decide to call the customer service number which they have conveniently posted on the wall. the people at the customer service number tell me that my package is in fact there and that there is no reason that anyone needs to look up anything on a computer, and that they just need to look for my package.

i return to the window and tell her to please look for my package again, and try to plea with her a little telling her i came all the way here and i don't want to have to come back. she looks at me and says, with heavy attitude, "i've already explained this to you and i'm not going to say it again." then she looks at the person behind me and screams, "next!"

i leave. furious. and without my magic facial peel.

monday i receive a call from costumer service telling me that they still can't find my package, but they are on it! and they will call me when they locate it. they are unimpressed with the detailed account of the postal worker's meanness.

then i get a call wednesday saying that my package was re-delivered and i wasn't home! how dare i not be home! i then explain that i work during the week, hence why i went to the post office on saturday.

she says i can come pick up the package at the post office. i tell her i already tried to pick up the package at the post office and the woman refused to look for it. i beg her to have the package re-routed to the library, but she says they cannot do that. i concede and tell her i will pick up the package thursday on my way to work.

so this morning i wake up bright and bushy-tailed and get to the post office at 9 am. turns out the post office doesn't open until 9:30 even though the customer service woman told me 9:00. so i wait, knowing i will most likely be late to work because of this. a charming crazy woman keeps me company, spewing psycho about how her mailman doesn't give her her mail. he only delivers junkmail. "he must be chinese," she says. "or spanish." i take out my phone and pretend to call someone.

then it is finally my turn at the window and my rude friend is there. i say to her, "i am here to pick up a package. i never got the notification slip."

"i remember you," she says. "i already explained this to you. i'll call you when i find your package."

"i got a call yesterday saying my package would be here. and they said i could pick it up today."

she looks for the package again, and comes back empty-handed. we fight back and forth and she tells me she has no idea what i'm talking about and that no one has called me. and then, dear blog readers, i start to get pissed. and i start to yell. and i say things like "just give me my god damned package. it's here and i want it NOW."

then she tells me not to get rude. so i guess instead of finding people's packages she has taken up giving lessons in manners as a new career path.

then i ask her what to do since my package is obviously lost. she says it is not lost and she will call me when she finds it. then she mutters that i am "wasting her time." she screams "next!" and i storm off into the sunset.

after several more phone calls to customer service, i am told that of course my package is at the post office. then they give me a name of a manager and tell me that the manager is expecting me tomorrow morning and this manager will give me my package.

tomorrow happens to be my day off, so after going to the gym and before meeting my mom for a shopping trip, i will go to the post office for the third time this week. i am bracing myself for the upcoming fight with rude postal working. bring it on!

to be continued ...



Saturday, November 15, 2008

geography challenged: part deux

i've decided it will be my life's work to impart a modicum of geographic knowledge onto the kids. the ironic thing is that i myself am not very good at geography. i mean, i know the basics, but when i'm faced with a blank map of the US i certainly have my troubles with all those square states in the middle.

the other day we had geography challenge part 2 in which we went over everything we had already discussed. it went much better and i realize that if i just drill these ideas into the kids heads over and over and over again some of them may acutally retain some of it. so i think if we just do this a few more times the kids might eventually remember where iraq is and start to understand that the states that are in the united states are not foreign countries.

geography challenged

after noticing the kids had a lot of trouble with the difference between cities, states, countries, and continents, i decided to do a program called geography challenge. i didn't know exactly what geography challenge would entail, but i figured it would start with the very basics.

i painstakingly drew a map of the world on the white board and asked the kids, "what's this?" the specific answer i was looking for was "the world," but i would have accepted "the 7 continents." they said stuff like: land, a map, countries, cities. they pretty much just yelled stuff out until they yelled the right thing. eventually we got "world."

then i asked "and what are these big land masses here?" they knew that one. it was the continents. and then we went through the continents and the kids came up and pointed to where each one was. so far, so good.

but then i took it too far when i suggested that the kids should name some countries and we'd figure out what continent said countries are on. no response. "name a country," i continued, "any country in the world ... there's several hundred to choose from. just name one." nothing. oh, why must my educated soul be crushed like this?

the kid who hates hoboes said "alaska," which although is incorrect i can at least see why someone might think it was a foreign country. sarah palin certainly seems like an alien to me. then someone said hawaii and i informed them that hawaii was also a state.

then this one girl said "new jersey" and i had a minor breakdown. "new jersey?" i asked, "where is new jersey?" no one knew. i then explained that you could pretty much take a subway train to new jersey from manhattan.

then i asked what country are we at war with. silence. "what country are we at war with? right now? thousands of our troops are over there?" no answer. and i'd like to add that one kid present had a sibling in the army who was about to be sent to iraq. but there was no response. finally i just told them iraq. when asked where iraq was i got answers ranging from canada to europe. and it turns out the phrase "middle east" is completely unknown to them as well.

then i took a deep breath and prayed for patience.

i turned to a girl from africa and said, "Girl from Africa, name a country. any country in the world." she just shrugged. "what country are you from?" i asked her. "africa!" she said proudly. "yes," i said, "you are from the continent of africa, but what country are you from?" then i swear to god she just went blank. and then finally some other kid chimed in and said, "aren't you from zambia?" which she is.

i think you can tell where this is going ... it was all pretty much a huge downward spiral from there. urgh.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

it's hard work being so awesome

poor bolshevik wanted to surprise me so badly, but it really is stressful planning an entire trip without any help. so last night over dinner i was handed an envelope signed and sealed (quite literally) which would reveal the destination of our secret trip. i could've held onto it and never opened it, but really who has that kind of self-control. lo and behold we are going to costa rica! yay! i want to see volcanoes and rain forests and play with monkeys and go on a zip line through the jungle and go sailing and see butterflies and eat ceviche and stay in a treehouse and smell tropical flowers and ....

Friday, November 7, 2008

what have i learned?

1. i have learned never to trust 4th grade teachers. i've been stood up twice now. TWICE! and i easily pulled a couple hundred non-fiction books which i will most likely have to put away myself *gasp* because we no longer have a page.

2. i have learned that we are not going anywhere with large touristy resorts. what constitutes a large touristy resort you ask? i'll tell you:
a. the presence of a waterslide and/or water rides
b. faux regional cuisine intended to give you the illusion you are in a foreign place
c. oversized alcoholic beverages with silly names
d. obnoxious american tourists complaining when something isn't exactly like it is "back home" (then why did you leave your precious home to go on vacation!)

3. i have learned that the capital city in our destination country has a population of less than 6 million. what does that mean? that means we are either going to costa rica, el salvador or guatamala. all places i would be thrilled to go to. yay!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

i hope i didn't ruin the game

i couldn't help it ... i had to ask a more hard-hitting question, even though part of me doesn't want to know the destination of the secret trip. today i learned that the trip will not be to a country which resides in the eastern standard time zone. which means that the only canidates left are mexico, guatemala, el salvador, costa rica, argentina, and possibly the eastern half of venezuela.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

places i am not going

i found out this morning that we will not be in danger of being kidnapped. so rule out colombia. which leaves:
mexico
guatemala
el salvador
costa rica
panama
venezuela
ecuador
peru
chile
argentina
and maybe bolivia, but i don't think so.

rule out paraguay

it is not mountainous. and although the bolshevik and i disagree on what is a place that will make people go "ooooh, i've always wanted to go there," i think we can safely rule out nicaragua. i'm keeping panama in the running because of their canal.

go vote!

Monday, November 3, 2008

halloween update

this halloween was more more successful than last halloween. i had two parties instead of one, so this time i had about 25 kids at a time instead on one party of 60 something kids. at no point did i scream out that i was going to drive to another library and give other kids all their candy. and no one cried. yay! halloween!

Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween!

this is my costume for the day ... miss viola swamp! (from the book Miss Nelson is Missing) watch out! miss viola swamp is not amused! of course, this isn't much different than a typical outfit i might wear: dress, striped knee highs. i guess the only difference is my nails are black and i've got green eyeshadow on. it's a subtle costume. maybe i can find a legal pad as a prop.

oh, so i forgot to mention this part ... people who know me know that i scare really easily. i won't even mention how i screamed in horror on the williamsburg bridge because of some rattling doors (seriously creepy, on one of those more open areas of the bridge there are these spooky chained up doors. yikes!) anyway, i am a total wuss when it comes to scary stuff. so when i was a kid i loved this book. and i remember having the book on a table in my bedroom, but being so afraid of the picture of miss viola swamp on the back cover (shown right), that i had to make sure that whenever i lay the book down it was always the front cover that was showing.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Y?

Y finally came in after being gone for several weeks. my assistant took her aside to speak to her, and then after that i wound up speaking to her as well. it wasn't very productive. she said that everything was fine and that the poem didn't mean anything. i said it must have meant something, but she maintained that it meant nothing and that she had written it with her friends just joking around. i said i didn't find the poem particularly funny. she shrugged, and then there was nothing left to say.

so that was that.

mas preguntas

no vamos a una isla, y no vamos a espana.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the answer to question #35

we will be going somewhere that is more than a 4 hour flight. curious. very curious. i must look at a map figure out what falls outside of a 4 hour radius.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1 out of 40 new questions

today i learned:

1. i will not need a malaria vaccination. phew.
2. they speak spanish in this magical place that the bolshevik is whisking me away to

me pregunto adonde vamos. lo suspiro.

is your bathroom breeding bolsheviks? you should be so lucky.

i may need to get vaccinated! yay! no, not because of some rare hivey disease that is afflicting me. because i am going on a trip! yay! a trip!

you may be wondering, "miss dewey decimal, where pray tell are you going?" well dear blog readers, the truth is i have no idea where i'm headed to.

you see, when the boshevik asked me to block out several days for us to go on a trip i assumed that it was somewhere in the continental united states. you know, a long weekend at a b & b somewhere with horsebackriding and maple syrup. he told me i could compose a list of yes or no questions, and i could ask one daily until the day of our trip. so i compiled a list with such hard hitting questions as "will salt water taffy be available where we are going?" and "is the state we are going to one of the original 13 colonies?" and he chuckled along answering "no" to all of my questions, leaving me rather perplexed and intrigued.

but then. oh then, dear blog readers, this morning i get an email telling me that i may need to get vaccinated for our trip. vaccinated! now, i am a woman of the world dear blog readers. i have been to many a place. and when i went to study abroad i did get a bunch of shots. i also got a bunch of shots when i entered grad school to study my fair profession. so i think i might be covered. but my darling bolshevik mentioned that i may need a malaria shot. ooooh, that means we are going somewhere tropical, despite his aversion to sunlight (apparently he comes from a long line of vampiric bolsheviks). anyhoo, i cannot tell you how excited i am.

now i must go compile a new list of questions, as my original questions are null and void. yay! and of course dear blog readers i shall keep you abreast of any new developments. and i wil soon be posting my new and improved list.
xoxo
miss dewey d.










Monday, October 27, 2008

why i heart fresh direct

so last night i sat at home writing my novel, patiently waiting for my groceries to arrive. those of you who know me are probably aware that i have a slight deficiency when it comes to food shopping and food preparation. but i want to get better at this for two reasons:

1. in these hard economic times i need to be more thrifty (it's been weeks since i had sushi! weeks!)
2. i must get back to the svelteness

so i ordered all sorts of healthy yummy food from fresh direct, including nutritious snacks i can take to work with me. but when i got my order one of my yogurts had been smushed and it opened and got yogurt all over my other stuff. so i lost one yogurt and then i had to clean yogurt off my other items. this actually wasn't a huge deal, but i decided that i would write a letter to fresh direct to tell them. usually when i've ordered from them everything is packed impeccably and there are no problems.

i figured they would refund me the cost of the yogurt, and maybe throw in free shipping on my next order. but today i got this email saying not only will they refund me $.99 for my yogurt, they will give me a $10 credit for my "trouble" and free shipping. a total retail value of $16.48. yay!

what have we learned here?
1. it is good to complain
2. fresh direct rocks

Friday, October 24, 2008

the kid formerly known as my favorite kid

so my favorite kid came in yesterday and as i mentioned he hasn't been coming in much. i had spoken with him last time regarding how important it is that he come to the library to do his homework. i had made him show me his homework, and it turns out he wasn't doing half of it.

so yesterday he comes in all proud, telling me that he gets a check every day for his homework, and that on his progress report it says that he always completes his homework. now, i know favorite kid. i know he does not posses the ability to do his homework on his own without serious prodding. so i am dubious of this progress report. i ask him to show me his homework and i see he has written out his times tables in his notebook, and there is indeed a checkmark. but i pry further.

"can you show me your assignment sheet?" i ask. and he shows me a sheet with a list of things he is supposed to do each day. "where are your spelling words?" i ask. he tells me he didn't do that part. "and where is this part where you are supposed to read an article and write about the who, what, where, when and why?" oh, surprise surprise, he didn't do that part either. he tells me he doesn't have articles at home.

"and where might you go to get articles, favorite kid."
"here," he groans.

then he argues with me that it must be ok that he is not doing all of his homework because his teacher is giving him checks everyday anyway. what the hell kind of teacher is this? so then i tell him that i think his teacher is being lazy.

"who is going to suffer in the end from you not doing your homework, favorite kid?"
"me," he groans.
what do you want to be when you grow up?" i ask.
"a lawyer," he tells me.
"well, lawyers need to do their homework in order to get to college. and they need to take a test. you can't be a lawyer if you don't do your homework."
"or a cop! i want to be a cop!"
"you still need to do your homework. there's a test to be a cop too."

then he tells me that he thinks his teacher is really tired, and goes on to do an impression of him. this impression looks very much like favorite kid's impression of our old teen tutor who was let go due to napping (maybe he was really a narcoleptic veteran! i am so insensitive when it comes to narcoleptic veteranss).

so then i tell favorite kid that i care about him and i want him to succeed. i tell him he needs to come in more and he needs to do his homework. he tells me he will, but seconds later he is goofing off. and then, dear blog readers, something dawned on me. i do not think that favorite kid is my favorite kid anymore. i think i have moved on.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

fall is here ... read the newsletter

back after much popular demand, we have finished the fall edition of the library-in-the-hood newsletter! you may remember that at our last newsletter meeting i had the kids actually read the newsletter and discuss its strengths and weaknesses. now, although i had to pull some teeth to get the kids to write actual articles, i think that this new and improved newsletter is pretty damned awesome.

but with everything here at library in the hood, we must take the good with the bad. which do you want first? let's go with the good ... kid who hates hoboes has been doing much better lately. i got him inspired to write poetry, and you'll notice he is our most prolific poet. he even helped my fabulous assistant write a poem about the importance of african americans voting. (page 2) and it turns out that he is responsible for my favorite line in said poem: we are kings and queens / of any scene. very harlem renaissance. so we've got one kid back on track.
then there is Y. Y is one of our smartest kids. she's a bit precocious at times, but she's a smart cookie. we haven't seen much of her recently, and then she shows up for the newsletter meeting and writes this poem. well ... it is a very good poem (page 4). powerful. raw. emotional. disturbing. i think it's apparent from the poem that she is being abused in some way. my assistant and i discussed it and we decided that the next time Y comes in, we will have a chat with her and see if she will tell us what's wrong. but sadly, Y hasn't come into the library since our last newsletter meeting.

if i worked in a community in which the parents were more active participants in their children's lives, then i have no doubt a parent would read this newsletter and be troubled by this poem. said parent could even go so far as to ask me to remove it from the newsletter. and with good cause. however, no such parent exists. i've debated about whether or not to censor young Y, but i feel like it would be wrong. first off, it would be blaming the victim. it is not her fault she is abused and we should not rob her of an avenue to express her pain. and second, it is a damned good poem and the other kids could learn a lot from it. both about life and about good writing.

so there you have it. just another day in the life of ...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

here's to you, narcoleptic veterans of the world

you may recall that several months ago i wanted to purchase a book on veteran's day and found a review for this tome about a girl who was embarrassed of her narcoleptic veteran grandfather. there was much debate about whether or not this grandfather was narcoleptic, surely i had read the review wrong. it was even suggested that "narcolepsy" was most likely a typo meant to be "nationalism" or "neutrality." well, the book finally arrived and i have read it cover to cover so that i may report back to you, my beloved and devoted blog readers ...

vinni and emily are playing at pop-pop's house. vinni loves to play in leaves, but emily does not. pop-pop points out that people are different and like different things. he chooses veteran's day as an example to prove this (it is, of course, the obvious choice). people celebrate veteran's day in different ways: parades, flags, moments of silence, etc. pop-pop is shocked that the two second graders don't know what veterans are (he should come to library-in-the-hood and see that my 3rd-7th graders don't know what thanksgiving is or independence day). anyway, he is so shocked that his narcolepsy kicks in and he falls asleep on a hammock. while asleep he talks about puppies and honey flavored ice cream. mmmm, honey flavored ice cream.

we then learn a key plot point ... pop-pop was born with narcolepsy. he did not become narcoleptic from his time in the armed forces.

pop-pop is supposed to come into emily's class to talk about veterans, but emily is afraid he will fall asleep and embarrass her. but on class visit day, pop-pop arrives in uniform and wows the crowd. he then explains that although he was in the army he never fought in a war. but he is still considered a veteran.

so not only is his narcolepsy completely unrelated to him being a veteran, he didn't even fight in a war! what the hell is the point of this book?! i feel like kids would be so confused by this. he's a soldier but he never fought in a war. he has a disease, but it's totally unrelated to being a soldier. this man is the softest soldier ever. seriously, why not write a story about a veteran who actually fought in a war and maybe he has to walk with a cane or something because he hurt his foot in battle? at least that would make sense.

grrrrr.

Friday, October 17, 2008

why i love my neighborhood (even though greenpoint is no longer technically my neighborhood)

so i just read this post from the greenpointers blog, informing me that cafe grumpy will be screening films the next four friday nights, all having to do with the topical subject matter of bicycling and hoodie wearing. before i even finished reading the post i said a silent prayer to myself, "please god, please let them be showing Rad." and lo and behold, they are! the other films are ET (obvious choice), Donnie Darko, and Goonies.

often when i tell people i live in the burg, i get the i-loathe-hipsters eyeroll. and sometimes i even get an outloud i-loathe-hipsters proclamation. i have even been the victim of random i-loathe-hipsters diatribes. but you know what? this neighborhood is damned cool. it ain't perfect, and there are douchebags a plenty here, but how can you not love a place where they are having a film festival based on hooded sweatshirts and bmx bikes? c'mon now people.

oh what a ridiculous morning(s)

this week has been my week to "do the papers." as much as i hate doing the papers i do enjoy having that extra ten minutes to possibly add in something extra to my morning routine. preferrably some little treat that will make me happy.

due to the economic downturn, i have decided i can no longer purchase my beloved #6 combo at dunkin donuts: veggie eggwhite flat with a medium tea. i also wonder if my beloved #6 combo may have played some part in my recent weight gain (please read: unsvelteness). it is on the heart smart menu ... how could it be bad?
moving on ... yesterday i went to dunkin donuts anyway, because i had to get the papers and my throat was sore and i thought that an eggwhite flat might make me feel better. here is how this should go:

1. park car, pay meter
2. run into Te Amo and buy newsday, ny times, daily news and ny post
3. cross street run into dunkin donuts and purchase breakfast
4. return to car and drive to work

i get ten extra minutes to do the papers, and i have found that i can do all these steps in said alloted ten minutes. however, it's tight and there is no room for any unforeseen events. no wiggle room at all.
so i return to my car to see a large tropicana truck double parked half in front of me, half beside me. i would have been able to maneuver around this had a stupid SUV not double parked behind me. now, i can accept that due to the nature of brooklyn streets and the need to deliver stuff, large delivery trucks often have to double park. but SUV Man, you are just an asshole.

the man in the tropicana truck tried to back up so that i could squeeze ahead of him, turns out there was another delivery truck double parked in front of him. and as though i was watching in slow motion, i see the tropicana truck back right into the SUV. but damned, that SUV just bounced right back. for the most part. then one of the drivers came out and he gave all sorts of hand signals, directing me and the tropicana truck and eventually i got out of my spot. during this time, SUV Man returned and was not pleased to see his car had been dented. although, given how hard the tropicana truck hit him he really is lucky to still have an SUV at all. and miraculously i made it to work on time.

so that was yesterday.

then this morning i leave the house an extra ten minutes early, giving me a total of twenty extra minutes, and i decide to go into greenpoint so i can stop at my bank and not pay an atm fee. i go to my bank, then i stop at the polish newspaper shop and buy the papers. and then my little treat for myself was that i went to this bagel place that has a breakfast combo of oatmeal and a medium drink. i happen to love real oatmeal (not the stuff that comes from a packet) . so i got an oatmeal with honey and raisins and a tea all for like $3 and change. (this led me to the crazy idea that i could go to a food store and purchase oatmeal, honey and raisins and actually prepare this in my own home. shocking.)

but then i had my little upset. since i had no quarters on me this morning, i had to park kind of far away. this was my big time killer. so i speed walked back to my car with one bag of hot tea and hot oatmeal, and another bag of newspapers. then all of a sudden my foot slips out from under me and in order to save myself from falling (and to save my super cute dress from getting dirty) i do a sort of split, one leg going behind me and one leg crashing down onto the asphalt in front of me. of course several people witnessed this and everyone was asking me if i was okay, and i tried to brush it off as suavely as possible. oh yes, i'm fine. this is just how i walk. i like to do a little split every so often and then go about my way.

i had a sense of some sort of unfairness at play. as proven before, i do in fact know how to walk. so why did i suddenly lose control of my legs? then i look down and i see the culprit. a large piece of smashed pumpkin lying in the street, slicking the surface for innocent pedestrians. that's right, i slipped on a pumpkin and skinned my knee.

so when i got to library in the hood i was five minutes over the alloted time for getting the papers. however, people were very amused by my pumpkin slipping story and didn't seem to notice my tardiness. phew. getting the papers is tough work.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

too good to be true

last night after punking some rope, the gang and i went to our favorite watering hole to watch the debates. i have to say i was actually moved by how well obama did under pressure, and how miserably mccain did. i mean, the man cannot make a point to save his life. and there was one moment when he seemed so flustered that he was actually shaking a bit. i even heard someone refer to him as appearing to be suffering from dementia.

now, i don't want to go and get my hopes up that obama will win. i mean, after the ridiculous kerry/bush debates where bush was rolling his eyes and yawning i thought for sure we had it in the bag. but alas, it was not so. despite that upset, i am starting to feel this uplifting feeling (is this what they call hope?) that maybe we've really got a shot at winning this thing.

so this morning when i came into work i made a lovely book display about such timely things as the electoral college, presidential elections, democracy, and a couple of our biographies of barrack obama (our one john mccain book is checked out). then i printed up this "kids" election crossword puzzle from the new york times. this puzzle is actually way too hard for my kids, and i've had no takers so far, but i'm offering a prize to any person(s) who can get 10 or more correct answers. all in all i was feeling energized.

but then the greatest thing happened. i was doing some reading on the internets and i came across this piece citing that the infamous "joe plumber" that mccain mentioned ad nauseum as some tragic american folk hero, is not actually a practicing plumber! he doesn't even have a plumbing license, nor has he ever held or applied for a plumbing apprenticeship! and then, it turns out, that even if joe plumber got his plumbing license (maybe he and joe six pack can be study partners) tax analysts project that he would actually get a tax break under the obama tax plan. oh, it just doesn't get much better than that.
but really i think the larger issue is what will the obama biden campaign do for all the "miss dewey decimals" out there who can no longer afford the basic comforts like sushi and alcohol? and where is my six pack? if mccain is elected will i be able to apply for a voucher to get this six pack i hear so much about?
p.s. "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters in the United States in 2007 was $47,350." (from cnn.com) a far cry from the 250,000 salary that would necessitate an increase in taxes.