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Magnificent Seven [Jul. 26th, 2004|02:10 pm]
Checking in from the U of A library. God, I miss Tucson. Hanging with Derek, Karen and Ben hopefully (where are you, Ben?). The trip has been excellent. I've hiked about 115 miles through 7 parks (Yosemite, Death Valley, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Mesa Verde, Navajo National Monument) and the Catalina Mountains. Highlights: stuck in quicksand, caught in a desert lightning and hail storm while hiking in a canyon, being smelly, peeking inside five ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings, reaching the top of Half Dome, surviving a forest fire that crossed my trail, hitch-hiking in Yosemite, burying fecal matter in Arches, taking a wrong turn in New Mexico (losing 2 hours), seeing deers and wild turkeys and coyotes, night hiking with Derek, bowling with my sisters, seeing Dav, talking my way out of yet another speeding ticket near Flagstaff, eating granola at Macy's, getting chased by a black sheep, seeing Ms. Wong, reading the Autobiography of Malcom X and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, meeting a fellow teacher from Compton Unified, making Chris jealous, drinking coffee at Paraiso, eating pizza at No Anchovies, seeing Dr. Hayot and Andrea Cuneo, hiking through mud with two Aussies, discovering the beauty of Tasty Bites Indian cuisine, not shaving, leaving Vegas, experiencing the most god-forsaken spot on Earth (Death Valley, which is quite a review, considering my immortal love for the desert), and bathing in streams. Thanks to my roommates, keeping up the house. Thanks to those who kept my safety in their thoughts.
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Road trip [Jul. 7th, 2004|11:31 am]
[mood |excitedexcited]
[music |Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People]

I've pretty much fallen off the lj cliff lately.

Tomorrow, I'm taking off on a big 3-week backpacking/camping/road trip. I'll probably head straight for Yosemite for a few days; then cut through Nevada, maybe stopping at Great Basin; after that, it's southern Utah with Bryce and Zion, maybe Arches/Canyonlands near Moab; dropping down to Navajo National Monument in northeastern Arizona, near Monument Valley, featuring awesome 150-room Pueblo cliff dwellings; then its off to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, perhaps stopping by Alberquerque to visit friends, time pending; the trip will finish through my college town, Tucson, for a quick visit (K, here I come!), before I end at home with my family in Scottsdale (outside Phoenix). I'll probably stay for a few days, then drive my sister back to Cali with me. I really can't wait - I'm so stoked! I've wanted to do something like this for years... Wishing y'all a wonderful summer too!
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Mr. Moore [Jun. 30th, 2004|01:55 pm]
Last night, I caught a sold-out showing of Michael Moore's newest film, Fahrenheit 9/11. I'm still trying to sort it all out in my head, due to its compilation of 4 years of events we're all pretty intimately aware of, into about 2 hours of film. Obviously, such a project means emphasizing certain ideas, while neglecting others. The following film reviews, one supportive and one critical, offer interesting takes on the film. After reading them, I fall somewhere in-between.

Klawans, Stuart. "By Way of Deception." The Nation Magazine online

Hitchens, Christopher. "Unfairenheit 9/11: The lies of Michael Moore." Slate, MSN.com
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One down... [Jun. 19th, 2004|08:13 am]
Finished my first year of school yesterday. I feel, amongst other things, relieved. We had to do "reflections" on the year at our staff meeting yesterday. My goals at the beginning of the year had been to survive my first teaching year, complete all my District Intern coursework, and produce a decent school yearbook. And I made it through all three! I definitely wasn't the most stellar teacher in the universe, but according to some of my kids, I did make an impact. And more importantly, I learned a ton. I really need to start writing a book about my first year in South Los Angeles... Right after my ears unplug. Went out for sushi with Mandy, Ben, Corrina, Jason, Viviana, and Connie last night in Hollywood. After drinking 2 beers, I promptly came home and passed out on my bed around 9pm, not waking until about 7am this morning. I blame it on the lingering cold. Here's to my first true no-labor summer vacation since I was 15!!!

pS. Thanks to all of you who helped me to get through this year. I couldn't have done it alone...
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Colorado Wedding [Jun. 16th, 2004|05:27 pm]
[music |NPR]

Last week, I made a weekend trip up to Colorado to visit Jessa and her son, Caleb, now walking and talking at a year and a half.

Jessa and Caleb

Jessa's cool mom took Caleb for a few days, while Jess and I head down to Southwest, Colorado for the wedding of our friends Cassie and Jon. Cassie, Jess, Toni Jo and I were all exchange students together in Wilmington, North Carolina. It was our first reunion in three years.

Cassie and I

Me, Jessa and Toni Jo

Cassie and Jon's wedding was absolutely beautiful. Set on Inspiration Point, overlooking a gorgeous valley in Ridgway, Colorado (near Telluride, Ouray and Silverton) the ceremony was simple, yet charmed.

Inspiration Point

The Wedding of Cassie and Jon

I'm not doing the weekend or the wedding much justice at this point, but I finally figured out how to post pictures on lj and thought you folks might enjoy the sights. Needless to say, it was a nice getaway and I'm supremely glad to have been there.
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I now pronounce you graduates... [Jun. 16th, 2004|04:54 pm]
It's been quite awhile since I've updated this journal. Without further adieu...

Today, I had the opportunity to read my students' names at the 2004 Mann Middle School graduation ceremony held at Crenshaw High School.

Mann Graduation
Mann Graduates, Mr. Nittle's Homeroom

The ceremony was a blast, and quite fun to be on the "teacher" end of the graduation game. However, due to my interminable head cold and still-plugged ears, my colleagues said that I was yelling the names over the microphone. I told them I was doing it for the parents' benefit, because my kids were the most important on the field ;) "Donnea Arlecia Gaines," I yelled, "Marvin Rafeal Gamez." My kids were beaming.

You might find it strange... Middle School Graduation?! Don't you mean High School? Why make such a big deal about culminating from middle school? First of all, only a very select few (200 of the total 500 8th graders) were eligible for culmination, according to LAUSD requirement. And sadly, the high school our students feed into experiences the exact same graduation rate, only 40% on average graduate from Crenshaw High, while 60% routinely drop out. So, in other words, middle school graduation is a big deal in the community. Anyways, enough about stats, here are the stars...

Mann Graduation

Mann Graduation

Mann Graduation
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Typing on district time... [May. 28th, 2004|11:47 am]
[music |R. Kelly - Happy People (Ha! My students downloaded it)]

It's now my 4th period conference. And I'm on the computer, trying to fix my classroom printer. Last period, I took my kids to a rad Brazilian folk dance assembly, complete with sweet percussion, martial arts-styled dance and enthused audience participation. It amazes me how talented some folks can be - those dancers had such control over their bodies - something I could never ever pull off in my wildest dreams. Lunch and my two most challenging periods remain between me and my long-awaited three-day weekend. Can't wait! Beach here I come (unless this funky cloudy weather keeps up). Sup to all my peeps in Buffalo, NY. Miss ya.
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Where have all the rude boys gone? [May. 22nd, 2004|01:34 am]
[mood |awakeawake]
[music |passing cars]

Livejournal, it's been awhile, old friend. Friday afternoon, I got home from work, absolutely exhausted. Dr. J suggested, "You look tired, why don't you take a nap." Brilliant idea, I thought. So I took a nap. A 7-hour nap. I think that explains why I don't usually take naps. Now, it's 1:35 am on a Saturday morning. All of my sane friends are asleep. I guess I'll eat a burrito and do some schoolwork.
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Rock n Roll McDonalds [May. 14th, 2004|11:57 pm]
I went to a killer teaching conference yesterday and today. Days away from the classroom renew my love for the profession. M, Dr. J and I drank wine tonight. And M, C and I watched the scariest movie of this summer: Supersize Me! Documentary about this dude who eats nothing but McDonald's food for 30 days. He gains something like 25 pounds, almost kills his liver and almost has a heart attack. Scary? I'm never touching those McVeggie burgers again with a fifty-foot pole...
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Color me obsessed [May. 8th, 2004|09:18 am]
[mood |weirdweird]
[music |Bob Dylan]

Another gorgeous weekend morning in Pasadena. Last night, I fell asleep in the haze of allergies (or a cold?) and a messed-up stomach. I'm not sure what hit me yesterday, but I think stress might have finally gotten through my semi-impervious body armor. I can't remember being more exhausted after a week of teaching. Ya standardized testing! However, as one of my colleagues pointed out, "You've made it, Knittle!" I've almost made it - only six more weeks. Ms. Levine (Ms. La-veeen) and Mr. Erenberg (Mr. Errandburg, Mr. Airandbirg) are obsessed with getting the kids to think I have a "K" in the front of my last name, but to pronounce it silently. I'm still waiting for a student to write it on a piece of homework as "Mr. Knittle."

M and I caught the Kill Bill sequel last night. While far different from the first, still utterly and completely satisfying. Like the first, I want to buy it and watch it a million trillion times... (Chris, remember Pulp Fiction Freshman year?) Grades loom high above my head. As I dive head over heels into this weekend, I must remember my good manners and give a shout out to all the mothers in the house (Jess!!!) - y'all rock. I deem Kill Bill 2 the Mother's Day movie of the century. I'm through...
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