The Flickr Mosaic Meme

(Originally posted on my LiveJournal blog.)

Credit for the idea of this meme goes to [info]cleolinda. It's a mosaic meme done using Flickr and it's lots of great fun.

Here are the instructions:

01. Answer each of the questions below the cut using the [Flickr] search engine. (The search engine has been programmed by [info]cleolinda to automatically search for the most interesting pictures. I recommend leaving it this way because the pictures are honestly prettier and well, what do you know, more interesting, too. :D).
02. Choose a photo from the first three pages.
03. Copy the URL of your favorite photos [here].
04. Then share with the world.

Here is my creation:

01. First Name:
Ana Cristina. On the first page, I kept finding these pictures of some random babe on a beach in a string bikini. Yeah, like that would represent me. I hit jackpot on the third page - the black and white picture of the girl on the unicycle, keeping herself in perfect balance. I feel this matches me. It's no accident my zodiac sign is Libra, because I always like things to be balanced in my life.

02. Favorite Food: Pasta. I swear I was Italian in a past life! I could eat pasta all day long.

03. Hometown: Miami, FL. I may have grown up mostly in Hialeah, but I was born in Miami and I consider Miami my playground. I sometimes forget how beautiful my city is, but seeing pictures like this is like a jolt to my memory.

04. Favorite Color: Red. I like the shades of red where it looks like it's a blend of orange and pink. What would you call that, scarlet? Je ne sais pas, all I know is I've always been drawn to red.

05. Celebrity Crush: Ewan Macgregor. Enough said. :)

06. Favorite Drink: Amaretto Sour. And yes, the cherry is absolutely necessary, in my opinion.

07. Dream Holiday: Florence, Italy. I have never been to Italy and I'm dying to go. I think Florence would be my dream holiday because the city just speaks history and romance to me. I think the picture I found really captures that. Plus, it just looks really cool.

08. Favorite Dessert: Thai donuts. I hate all other types of donuts, typically, but the first time I tried Thai donuts in this thai restaurant near the boyf's house, it was love at first bite.

09. What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: A writer, actually a novelist, to be precise. I've written tons of poetry and short stories, but I would love to be able to write an entire novel. I picked this particular photograph because I first began writing with pen and paper, and sometimes I wonder if I wasn't a better writer before the computer came along.

10. What I Love Most In The World: Sleep! There is nothing I value more in the world, not food, not sex, not anything else. If I don't get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, I'm not a happy camper.

11. One Word That Describes Me: Impulsive. I know this is not necessarily a good thing - my impulsive nature more often than not has led me to make bad decisions, but it sometimes leads to great ones, too, like my boyf. :D

12. My LiveJournal Name: [info]bella_stella78 I had to search using "bella stella," which means "beautiful star" in Italian. (No, it has nothing to do with Twilight!). I think the picture that showed up for my LiveJournal name is gorgeous. It's like a waterfall of stars.

Photo Credits: 1. Ave C├ęsar, voa!, 2. Spaghetti in Tomato Cream Sauce, 3. Miami Skyline at night, 4. embers, 5. Ewan MacGregor 2, 6. Amaretto sour (with the cherry, please), 7. Black Hole Sun, 8. Fun with new stuff( Purple Potato sweet vinegar), 9. The Writer, 10. sleep the clock around, 11. from sidekick to superhero, 12. Una pioggia di stelle solo per te..

Australia will just have to wait.

"Australia" came out in theaters, which was a happy surprise for me - for some reason, I kept thinking it would come out on Christmas day. I would totally drag the boyf to see it today, but I've got a date with Edward for 5:10 PM. ;)

Yep, I'm seeing "Twilight" again! This time with another teacher from school and some of our English students. I'm excited to see it again because everyone tells me they love it even more after a second viewing.

So "Australia" will just have to wait. Maybe I can convince Ricky to see it on Saturday? Hm.

I can't believe Thanksgiving is done and Christmas is almost here. This year has flown by so fast! Thanksgiving this year was spent with the boyf's family at one of their friends' house. We had turkey, stuffing (my personal fave), mashed potatoes, pasta, asparagus, and I forget what else. But it was all good. Ricky came and hung out with me at home after we spent some time with his family and their friends, and we wound up taking an extended nap. Must have been all that food. Ricky left me at some ungodly hour to go participate in the Black Friday madness. I stayed home sleeping, thank-you-very-much. I need my sleep because I came down with a monster cold yesterday. The night before, Wednesday, I went to see Madonna in concert with a friend, and we had some major nose bleed seats that practically had us sitting next to God. It was a good show, and I had a lot of fun, but it turned unexpectedly chilly that night, and I guess sitting that high up must have jumpstarted this cold. Ugh. I just hope it goes away before Monday.

Lolcat Picture of the Week

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Bubble Tea

I'm amazed at how fast this weekend has gone. I guess it's because I've been so busy - on Friday, I went to see Twilight with the boyf right after work (read my review if you want to know what I thought of the Movie-of-the-Forever), then we ate dinner at this little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant near his house that makes the best bubble tea. What's that you say? You don't know what bubble tea is? Well, you just don't know what you're missing! It's this sort of iced tea concoction that is served with a huge straw. The straw is not just for show or fun (though it is fun!) - it's meant to suck up all the delicious tapioca pearls that await at the bottom of the cup. There's different kinds, but my absolute favorite is the Taro Boba:
It may sound strange to say, but this drink tastes as though a rice krispie treat were blended into a shake. It's delicious, trust me. And it's just oodles of fun to slurp the "pearls" through that gigantic straw.

So that was Friday. On Saturday, I woke up at an ungodly hour to help the boyf's best guy friend and his girlf move into their new house in West Palm Beach. The boyf and I made the long drive and spent most of the day just waiting for the movers to arrive, then wait for the movers to figure out how to fit this massive couch through a tiny door, then wait some more. Just because. The girlf and I were supposed to go see Twilight, but that didn't happen because the move took so darn long. Ricky and I got home past midnight, bone-dead-tired. Did I mention yet this is like the fifth time we've helped this dude move? Hopefully it's the last!

Today I woke up at an ungodly hour again, this time not due to an alarm clock ringing but rather my phone. "Unknown Caller," the Caller ID informed me as I blearily reached for the phone before docking it firmly back into its cradle. Ugh. After that I couldn't go back to sleep, so I've just been blahing around my room all day, dithering around on the internet, and updating my Twilight Blog, which I think I'm going to keep (for now). I have a massive stack of papers to grade, tests to type, things to do. The boyf wanted to buy me a new camera today, but I don't know. I'm feeling a bit under the weather. We shall see.

I am looking forward to the season finale of True Blood, though! That airs tonight at 9 PM on HBO. If you haven't watched it yet, why not?

It's beginning to look a lot like...

OMG, the Christmas, it is coming. Like for real. And why am I speaking like a lolcat?! I don't know, but all I know is that Christmas is my favorite season. It seems like it begins earlier and earlier each year. Walking into Target tonight with the boyf in search of a "Happy Birth of Your First Child" card for his cousin, I was struck by the festive decorations. It always seems to be put me in a cheery mood. That and chocolate. But I digress.

I am more excited than I should be because something else is coming, and sooner, too - the "Twilight!" I just bought two tickets for me and the boyf via Fandango. We will see the movie-of-the-forever at 5:10 PM on Friday afternoon. All of my students tell me they are going to see it at 7:00 PM. I was OK with going at that time, too, but the boyf, he is afraid of the fangirls. So we will be avoiding them and going to an earlier showing. [Little does he know his girlfriend is a major fangirl.]

I have posted at length about my new haircut, my bangs. Everyone's been pretty positive about them. Most people tell me I look "more Chinese" now. Not that I am Chinese, or even one drop Asian to begin with. (Read: I am a Cuban-American, born and bred in Miami, FL). Yes, I do have slanted eyes that crinkle funny when I smile. But whatever. The point is that I'm happy with my new bangs and everyone else seems fine with them, too.

Enter the boyf. He is not happy. He says he liked how I looked better before. I say meh to him. This is what I looked like before bangs:

While I was OK with how I looked, I like me with bangs better. They add a certain polish to my look, I think, and they make even a ponytail (my normal mode of hairstyle at least twice a week) look more stylish somehow. Here I am with bangs:

I am thinking of keeping bangs, cutting them every so often to maintain them, but I don't want the boyf to be upset. But I want to be happy. But I don't know! AH, EMOTIONAL TUG-OF-HAIR, WHY DOST THOU TORMENT ME SO?! Yes, I know, it's just hair, but to a woman, her hair is never "just hair." So what do you think? Should I keep the bangs or grow them out?

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Flicked Off

The Good Movie season is beginning with a vengeance - today the new Bond film debuts, next week we have "Twilight," and then later we have "Australia," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and "Watchmen." I am dying to see all of the above!

I truly am glad that "Twilight" is opening next Friday, because every day it seems like new footage is being shown. I mean, the whole film is practically online. I kid you not. I used to enjoy the upkeep required for my Twilight blog, but man, I just can't keep up with the news these days. So I kinda sorta stopped trying, honestly, only posting the absolutely awesome stuff. I've even started posting (gasp!) snarky stuff, largely filched off of Cleolinda's most awesome site. It's not that I don't love my Twilight like the good little fangirl I am, it's just that the book and now the film have become larger than life, and if I don't make fun of it all, I must and will go MAD. Ahem. So yeah, I will be seeing "Twilight" next week with reluctant boyfriend in tow. He is bemused by my fascination, but God bless the boy, he's at least willing to indulge my obsession and take me to see the film.

Today the new trailer for "Watchmen" debuted. It is good, so good that I'm even more worried now that the film won't live up to the comic book. And if you didn't know it was based on a comic book by Alan Moore, for shame. Go and repent. Then see the trailer. It is chill-inducing.

Teaching is a Three-Ring Circus

While I was with my friend yesterday and she was commiserating with me about the shitty pay that teachers receive, I said something that I personally feel is very true: "Teaching is a performance art." If you cannot grab your students' attention and maintain it, you will not survive even one year as a teacher. I know this as sure as any other lesson I've ever learned, because I had to learn it the hard way.

So how does one go about becoming a teacher?

It's not enough to do your bachelor's degree in education, not even a master's degree or a doctorate will really prepare you. Not really. Sure, learning about famous, dead, white, male teachers has a purpose - it helps you attain certification so you can actually get hired to teach - but once you're sitting at your desk and there's five minutes left before the first bell of your teaching career rings, none of those textbooks will do you a whit of good. I'm sorry to disappoint any aspiring teachers out there, but this is the God honest truth.

So what can you do to prepare yourself to become a teacher?

The best advice I can give you is to practice in an actual setting with real live students. Tutoring one-on-one, either by hiring out yourself or working with a service like Kaplan, Full Potential, etc., is a good way to start, as it gives you an idea of the rapport you will need to build with students, but in order to get the full experience of a class dynamic, you need to teach an actual class. I've been fortunate enough that almost every woman in my family is a teacher or works within education, so as a young girl, I got to go in with my mother, who's a teacher-aide, on school holidays (I went to a private school while my mother worked in a public school) and witness teaching from a different perspective.

Another thing that truly helped me was my experience working for the first principal to hire me, Mrs. Furmanick. A large part of my interview process involved my teaching English to a class of 7th graders, and I only had a few days beforehand to prepare. With great energy and excitement, I searched online for a short story that would capture the attention of these middle schoolers. I don't remember the exact story I used (this was six years ago and my memory is a freaking sieve), but I know it was fantasy and involved some kind of dragon. Whatever, I thought it was cool and I had a good feeling the students would, too. After finding my story, I prepared questions and planned my lesson down the milisecond. Heck, I even bought my first "teacherly" outfit, this silky blouse with sleek beige khaki pants.

I thought I looked professional. I thought I was prepared. I thought wrong.

Sure, the first half of my lesson plan went great. I introduced myself and asked the students to say a little about themselves so that I could learn about them, too. I introduced the story, taking great care to emphasize the fantasy and action elements of it. Then I called upon various students to read, stopping the reading every so often to ask pointed questions to make sure the students understood the story and were paying attention. I was so smug, thinking I had the job in the bag. I was as good as hired, I thought. Then suddenly, the story was done, all my questions had been answered. The students were all seated in their desks, looking at me attentively, waiting for the rest of their lesson. But my script was done. Despite the fact that I still had 15 minutes left in the class, I was done.

That was the moment I realized that teaching is not an exact science. You can plan your lessons, and yes, you should plan lessons ahead of time so that you are prepared, but you have to be ready for anything. You have to have back-up plans so that you don't have dead space and time to kill. Because the students will smell the blood in the water and nothing, nothing is worse than showing the students you're not prepared for them.

Did I get that job? Yes, yes, I did. But those 15 minutes I did not plan for were brutal. I had to scramble and call upon everything in my power not to flounder. I equate this experience with a comedian who's planned for a 20 minute routine, and then realizes mid-act that his jokes only take five minutes to tell. It was hell, but I've always been a good ad-libber, having been an active participant in my drama club during high school.

This year is my sixth year as a teacher. I have taught students in grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 12. I even had two brief experiences teaching at the college level, just one class apiece for an undergraduate English class and a graduate English class. I am not perfect, but I am experienced and feel I can handle just about anything a student can throw at me - barring violence and anything of that sort, of course. It's not the classes I took in education or the workshops that have made me the teacher I am today - if I am to be honest, it's 60% on-the-job learning and 40% experience from my years acting in high school.

You Need To SeeThis

Lolcat Picture of the Week

This week's lolcat was found by Cleolinda. It's lolarious.

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John McCain's Campaign: An Obituary


The campaign of John McCain passed away this Tuesday. It had been struggling for quite some time, though it rallied in the final days before finally succumbing at 11:00 PM (EST). The cause of death? Disorganization and poor planning are being touted as the main reasons, although others cite McCain's age, his lack of economic knowledge, as well as his inexperienced V.P. pick, Sarah Palin (alias, "Caribou Barbie"), as the contributing factors.

The campaign will leave behind several disappointed, not to mention incensed, Republicans in its wake, such as Bill O'Reily and Rush Limbaugh, as well as millions of jubilant citizens of all walks of life and political parties who are optimistic for the future of this country and for the new president-elect, Barack Obama, who will take the office McCain had expected -- and failed -- to achieve.

In lieu of flowers, family and friends of the deceased are asking for monetary donations instead. It is rumored that they need funds to help pay for the considerable financial dent made by Palin's purported shopping "spree," although others claim the money will be used to fund Palin's education in basic history, civics, and geography.


Election Day

Today is a Teacher Planning day, so I only had to go to work for a few hours, after which I hurried home to change into comfortable shoes to get ready to vote. I was expecting nightmarish lines - everyone else I know had to wait over an hour, and that includes people who voted before and on Election Day. Well, when I arrived at my voting precinct, Walker Park, lo and behold, there was a small line. I waited maybe five minutes tops before I got to vote. I was amazed and impressed by how organized and well-run that precinct was. Here's hoping the election itself goes just as smoothly...

Lol"cat" Picture of the Week

OK, I know it's not a cat, but hey, it was posted on the lolcat website and well, I just couldn't resist. :D

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