1. Don’t Smile Until Christmas
This piece of first-year teaching advice was thrown at me from every direction – from my father to my friends who studied education and even my principal here in Brooklyn before the first day of classes started. I have to admit, I fully intended to follow it. I also have to admit, though, that I probably cracked my first smile within the first week of the school year. And I’ve smiled almost every day since then at school for one reason or another. I can’t help it.
Sure, there are some class periods that make me feel like very much the opposite of smiling, but those are less frequent. A big question that gets asked a lot in JVC circles is, “Where do you see God daily?” This question is never difficult for me to answer. It’s always in my students. And who could go five months teaching a group of humans that bring you grace daily without smiling? Whether it’s watching a student come to an understanding they hadn’t had before or a group of them playing “invisible basketball” during an indoor recess on a rainy day, I don’t think it would be possible for me to go a day without at least a small smile at school.
2. Keep Your Blog Updated
Oops … as I stated in my last blog post, which was, sadly, published about four months ago, I have not been great at this. When you forget the password to your site every time you log on because you only log on once in a great while, it’s a sign you aren’t blogging enough. I think. What is blogging enough? I don't remember that tidbit from my four years in journalism school.
I neglected to update for a multitude of reasons, but mostly just because there are a lot more interesting, enticing and exciting things to do in Brooklyn besides sitting in a library and writing a blog post – especially one you’re not particularly inspired or excited to write. So I just didn’t do it. Which might say something about my work ethic, but I think it says more about my desire to be present to my community and life as a Jesuit Volunteer, and I don’t regret not spending an hour or two weekly writing for my (five) followers. But it is something I want to change over the next six months.
3. Don’t Fall in Love in New York City
This particular piece of advice I only received once, from one of my journalism professors at the end of my senior year at Marquette. And while I’m pretty sure he was talking about me falling in love with another human (we’re going to leave my actual love life out of this post), I have definitely fallen in love. With New York. The City. Head over heels.
I cannot imagine myself leaving this loud, dirty, crowded, smelly, beautiful, wonderful metropolis in six months. I sit around sometimes and daydream about our future together (maybe that time could be better spent blogging…). Though at this point I really have no idea what it holds, I know there is a future there, and I can’t wait to live it. Here. In New York. Where I’ve fallen in love. With this city. (Googly eyes).
4. Don’t Lose Your MetroCard
Another oops. Literally within the first five minutes after unloading from the bus to New York, the former JV who was escorting us to our house handed us all MetroCards and told us, “Do not lose these. Ever. They are the most valuable thing you now own.” He was absolutely right, and I thought to myself, “No problem, I went four years of college without losing my student ID, surely I can keep track of a subway card.”
And I was right, up until very recently. Literally five days before I went home for Christmas, I found myself MetroCard-less. It didn’t happen on a late Friday night or early Saturday morning, as I had imagined it might. It was a Monday evening. I was going to the store. I swiped my card, stuck it back into my pocket and sat down on the bench to wait for the train (more advice I’ve ignored). After I’d gotten off the train, walked four blocks and reached back into my pocket, it was gone. Just like that, I had lost the most valuable thing I owned (That is not a joke – a monthly MetroCard runs $112. My monthly stipend as a JV is $100). This is one mistake I will not make again. Ever. Hopefully.
4 ½ Someone told me not to eat street food in NYC, but if I follow that advice, I would be hungry about 45 percent of the time.