Tag Archives: Christmas

Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher

Never in my life has winter break seemed so necessary. Not even when I was recovering from my first semester in the stifling libraries of Sciences-Po, my eyes aching from staring intensely at the pages of academic articles and mes dissertations, did this small window of repose feel so crucial. Teaching is really fucking hard.

I grew up in classrooms. During my elementary years, I went immediately from my own school to the larger, more intimidating campuses of my uncles and my mother. The bell rang, I got on the bus, and I bounced and chattered through every stop until there was only me and the driver. Then I moved up to the front of the bus to chat with her (or was it a him?) as we neared the middle school. From there I would either go to my uncle’s classroom on the middle school campus, or walk over to the high school on the other end of the football field. I sat out the remainder of the afternoons in the back of the room watching my uncle or my mother teach. My most vivid memories are of my mom’s Advanced Placement English classes. The Scarlet Letter. “The Graduate.” “The Fall of the House of Usher.” These were the works of my childhood, the prose, intertwined with the melancholy voices of Simon and Garfunkel, weaving a refrain in the background of my thoughts. I don’t know when I fell in love with literature and words and storytelling. But those countless days spent in the back of my mother’s classroom listening to her dive head first into the often dark and gruesome tales of humanity had something to do with it. They also had something to do with me becoming a teacher.

The adults in my life modeled teaching, and so I mimicked them. As soon as my little sister could take on the role of my pupil I set up a school for her in the basement. I wrote on the chalkboard my parents had bought us as she sat in a red antique desk copying my letters and numbers onto paper. We practiced the ABCs and counting to 10. We learned colors, sang songs, played games. It was all a game, really, but for me it was very real. I was her teacher and she was my student. I loved every minute of it.

I would not say today that I love every minute of teaching. On the contrary, I spend much of my time being very uncomfortable, especially when it comes to discipline. I’ve found that yelling at students actually makes me feel dirty. It has somewhat of a dementor effect, as if some dark force swooped down upon me and sucked out my soul. I try not to yell or “be mean,” and in turn my students take advantage of my compassion. I’m learning, though, to use discipline in a more constructive and effective way, and as I become more comfortable with it, to use it as a tool rather than a whip. It still requires and immeasurable amount of energy, though. Teaching takes all of me, from lesson planning, to grading, to being up in front of a class for five hours a day. I plan five different hour-long presentations everyday, five days a week, for an audience that doesn’t want to be there and doesn’t want to listen. If you didn’t get it the first time, teaching is really fucking hard.

That is why these two weeks of break are so needed. That is also why it’s been three months since I posted anything on this blog. By the end of the day, I’ve been talking for so long that I have no words left. Each day I am emptied. Only yoga and food and booze and sleep can replenish me. Well, only that and my students.

Ironically enough, the very soul-sucking, heart-wrenching, energy-depleting creatures that torment me all day are also the source of my happiness. Just as they make every day miserable, they make every day worth it. I live for the small moments—a student grasping a concept for the first time, a group of boys who are typically fighting working happily together, a student finding a typo in my own writing (we call them “word crimes”), a girl who used to be rude and disruptive slowly transforming into a kind and caring young woman, hugs and hellos from little ones who aren’t even my students, baking 84 Christmas cookies and watching my students eat them gleefully. The list is endless.

And so, during these two weeks, the truth is I will never set aside my teacher hat. I will think of my students, my lessons, books I’m teaching next quarter, things I need to do, activities to plan. I will talk about teaching at Christmas dinner, over coffee with old friends, here on this blog. I will tell stories and relive the worst and best moments of the past five months. Ms. Martin will not disappear. But in all honesty, she’s always been there, and she’s here to stay.

Smiles and all the best,



1 Comment

Filed under Prose, Teaching

A holiday gram from me to you!


Just a little more than a year ago, my old roommate, Abby the incredible, and I shared our rendition of “Baby it’s Cold Outside” with you and the interwebs. Well, this year Abby is off galavanting through the Southern Hemisphere in a bikini while I am freezing my butt off in Paris. Typical. Still, even though I’m only one half of our dynamic duo, I decided to record a song for you all anyway! Voilà, my favorite song of the season, “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin:

Like it? You can listen to it on Soundcloud, too:

What’s your favorite song of the holiday season? Leave a comment a let me know—I need new ideas for next year! 

Enjoy the music, and may the holidays bring you warmth, love and happiness!

Smiles and all the best,




Filed under Miscellaneous, Projects

Samedi Sommaire 1.2: Bienvenu Décembre

In case you didn’t realize, this is no typical Saturday. No, no. This Saturday is exceptional. This Saturday is stupefying. This Saturday, my friends, is December 1st. Now what’s so extraordinary about the first day of December, you ask? I’m astonished that you would even ask such a question. Incredulous, really.

For all of you who didn’t get the memo, December 1st means there are…

  1. 31 days until we can all wake up, hung over, and make a resolution to drink at little less
  2. 30 days until we can all get smashed to welcome in the New Year
  3. 24 days until Christmas
  4. 23 days until my best friend arrives in Paris
  5. 21 days until we can all say we survived the End of the World
  6. 20 days until the End of the World
  7. 12 days until I celebrate the end of my first semester in Paris by going to this sweet Efterklang concert

As you can see, today is no ordinary day, and December is no ordinary month. So here’s some stuff to get you feeling just as jazzed as I am:

Listen to: 

A very She & Him  Christmas. Probably my favorite Christmas album of all time. Perfect for getting into the holiday hullabaloo.

Drool over: 

Red Velvet Brownies

These super cute Red Velvet Santa Hat Brownies from Shelly over at Cookies and CupsBake some and send me a few! I’m itching to bake, but I’m sans oven! C’est trop dommage! 

Think about: 


Using recycled paper to wrap your gifts in this Christmas! Each holiday season in the United States results in five million tons of extra garbage. If each family wrapped only three presents in recycled materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! So make your own wrapping paper from old newspapers, magazines, essays you were planning on burning, grocery bags, etc. This season is supposed to be about giving, so let’s give our Earth a gift, too.

Wear this: 


Put one of these Pashminas on your wish list this year. They are made by the women at the Nepalese Women Skill Development Projectwhich was established in 2010 to help Nepalese women develop skills to help them gain independence and become more self-empowered.


Oh, and here’s number 8: December first means homework. Happy Saturday?

Leave a comment and share your own list! What are you counting down to?

Smiles and all the best,


Leave a comment

Filed under Prose

Photo(s) of the (last) Week


Yes, I’m aware that it’s Tuesday and I’m late posting the photo of the week. No, I did not forget. I’ve just been so busy with Christmas festivities that I ran out of time! And honestly, blogging is not my day job. However, in an effort to make up for it, I’ve posted several photos from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I took lots of pictures last weekend! These are only a few. Enjoy!

Christmas Eve cookie making

Each year, my little sister, my mum and I make a huge batch of sugar cookies using an ancient recipe. The pages of the recipe book are golden and frayed. Frosting fingerprints from years past obscure the text and sprinkles come trickling out when you lift the book from the table. Making, rolling, baking and decorating these little sugar cookies are, and always will be, one of my favorite Christmas traditions. This year, we even whipped out the dinosaur cookie cutter!

Christmas Day in Prescott, Ariz.

I’ve lived in Arizona my entire life. So, every year I get a warm, sunny, Arizona Christmas. I can’t remember ever waking up to snow on Christmas morning, and I’m not sure what I’d do if I did. Blue skies and sunny mornings are what I’ve grown up with and what I’ve grown to love.

Where ever you are, I hope your December 25th was full of warmth. Now, onto the new year!

Smiles and all the best,


Leave a comment

Filed under Photos

The Next Big Deal

I had the honor of being featured in one of my roommate’s wonderful videos! You can watch more from Abby here.

Christmas is definitely the time for laughter, love and play. I had a great time filming this with Abby, and I hope you have just as much fun watching it!

Smiles and all the best,


1 Comment

Filed under Projects