Reflect {2013} pt. 2

Monday, December 30, 2013

My initial post: Reflect {2013} was a bit silly, yet it still reflected who I am. I wanted to dedicate another post to 2013 because this year was amazing. Definitely the best year of my life so far.
Here are some of my big moments of 2013:
1. I graduated from Hope Academy. Summa cum laude.
2. I enjoyed a senior mission trip to the Dominican Republic. It's a beautiful country full of beautiful people.
3. I moved into my first place! I rent a lovely apartment with 2 other girls.
4. I joined City Campus Ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian church. I have met so many awesome friends there. CCM is definitely the highlight of my Wednesday and Sunday. 
5. I moved to East Harlem. Lots of excitement and culture in this neighborhood!
6. I joined City Year and I work with an amazing team at a middle school in the Bronx.
7. I graduated from the Art Team at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It was such a fun and creative job. (Pictured: We're interviewing Dessa, a Minneapolis based Spoken-word and musical artist.)

Reflect {2013}

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Last year I wrote 13 goals for 2013. I must admit some of them were just plain weird and unattainable, but some of them were cool. Here's a recap of how I did (See this post for original goals A New Year):
My list of 13-

1. Act in a play outside of school (Anna Carlson, you catching my vibe?)
Did not happen
2. Figure out the city bus system, so I'm not dependent on a car (actually, van).
Did not happen in MPLS. However, I am a pro at the NYC public transportation system. 
3. Win a College scholarship, any college scholarship-- I need some scholarships.
I won one scholarship for $1000. After I finish my gap year I will earn $5,500 from Americorps. Boom!
4. Read a book each month (yeah, I don't have much time on my hands.)
5. Grow as writer, too bad I don't know what that will look like other than practice, practice, practice.
I continue to write for Student paths and I continue to blog. This goal is a little hard to measure, but I would say I have grown.
6. Become a softball star! SO EXCITED for softball to start again
I was captain of the Hope softball team. Saying I was a softball star is a stretch though. A big stretch.
7. Go somewhere scary with Auryanna via roadtrip.
No. Boo. However, we did a lot of other strange things this year. 
8. Go sugar-free for 6 weeks (I'm on day 2)
I did it. I think I'll do this one again for 2014 and this time I'll reflect more on it.
9. Watch Alandra, Lindsay, Carissa, and Anna K become Basketball stars in college! (Especially Alandra)
Umm. Kind of? Not really though.
10. Don't cut my hair. Trims are okay.
I added bangs to my look
11. Graduate. Simple enough, then go to college.
I graduated. Taking a year of service has been one of the best decisions I have made.
12. Go to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip. Would you like to support this? Find out more information? Click here
Check! I raised more than enough money for this trip as well. Check out these pictures from the DR.
13. I want to volunteer with this ministry more
I haven't been able to volunteer with Tapestry due to living in a different state and a busy senior year, but I continue to support them financially and by word of mouth. 

Okay, those goals were a bit weird. Here's to better goals for 2014! :) 

NYC Sightings / Fall

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New York City is an exciting place. Here were some of the things I saw on the streets of the City this Fall:

1. The New York City Marathon went on right in my neighborhood (1st Ave)! I love the marathon because it brings all of New York City together. Everyone comes out of their apartment, and cheering is heard all day long.
2. The Macy's Day parade is like no other parade. Celebrities, balloons, confetti, and lots of people! Fall Out Boy was on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Float (pictured above).
3. Annie was filming on the Subway at Grand Central! Super fun to watch.
4. I never knew getting in a cab could be so exciting! Those people were lucky!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Everything green and red. 
Warm and bright. 
Love and family. 
Joy and delight. 

Merry Christmas, Christ is here!

Streets // Hunts Point

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hunts Point in the Bronx is where I spend the majority of my time. My school is located here and this where the students I work with live. I have a special spot in my heart for this place, despite the brokenness and poverty. This is what I see as a walk through these streets every day:

It still have those moments when I can't believe I work here.

I will leave you with this:
Here's a fun post about Hunts Point from September.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

It was in the negatives today (temperature). My siblings and I started a tradition last year of hanging out together on Christmas Eve with just the four of us. Our time together has three requirements: outdoors, food, and Matthew doing something stupid. Last year he jumped out of the car, and this year he was stuck in Apple Valley, causing us to pick him up two hours after we were supposed to start. What would we do without him? We were planning to go sledding today, but the weather was not permitting. Instead we ventured off to Minnehaha falls. We walked around and did a little exploring. I've been to the falls many times, but it never gets old. After that, we stopped at Smashburger for a late lunch, and finally we went to Barnes & Noble for last minute Christmas gifts.
Izzy. Matthew. Ben. Abby
The steps were a challenge to walk down. 

A tasty relief from the cold, courtesy of SmashBurger.

This is WHERE I Serve

Monday, December 23, 2013

First point, I am home in Minneapolis! I had a full weekend of fun and family. I have also received a lot of questions. People here want to know about New York. All they know is what they see in the movies or in the media. Hunts Point in the South Bronx is a place you won't see in the media. The South Bronx happens to be the poorest congressional district in the country and poverty abounds. Another corps member from City Year shared this article and I really appreciated it: "People Most New Yorkers Never See."  Some of the stories are heartbreaking to read, but this is the reality people face.

Here are two people that stuck out to me from the article:

 "Sonya lives on the top floor of an abandoned building with her husband of ten years Eric. They left Rhode Island in pursuit of drugs, settling in Hunts Point five years ago. 'This is the only reason me and Sonya are in Hunts Point, because this is literally right now the best heroin in all of New York City.' 

"Chris Bishop was drinking in front of a liquor store when we met. A resident in the local homeless shelter, he told me the following: At the age of 13, Chris killed his father, stabbing him with a knife after a childhood of abuse.

The article captures the lives of 8 individuals. I definitely encourage you to read more about the two people I posted. I walk past the mural in the top picture every day, and I see a handful of liquor stores throughout Hunts Point. 

Photo credit: Chris Arnade

I was asked out today

Friday, December 20, 2013 a 6th grade boy (also one of my students). Ha! I got you excited for nothing. I told him no. Then he asked if we could go out for a minute. I still said no. Poor kid.
Today I felt a lot of love. My class gave me a beautiful card/poster and the teacher gave me a tricked out watch. We threw a party for our after school kids and they loved it. Then I finished out the evening at a friend's apartment and we had a little Christmas party complete with fancy cheese, presents, a gingerbread house, a devotional, and more yummy food. 
That's my class. Snowmen version! (I'm the snowman in the red)
It says, "Merry Christmas from your 603 Family!"

Taking stock

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Making : time to blog
Cooking : sweet potato french fries
Drinking : grape fruit juice
ReadingTuck Everlasting
Wanting: a massage
Looking: through glasses.
Laughing: because a teacher I work with bought me a lottery ticket today.
Wasting: lettuce.
Wishing: all my family and friends lived close by.
Enjoying: sweater weather!
Waiting: for December 21st
Helping: students work with their new laptops.
Wondering: when the hot water will be on. 

Listening: the Civil Wars. Not sure why it took me so long....
Hoping: that it stays warm this winter
Needing: to sleep
Smelling: Anthro Avocado + mint candle
Wearing: White tee. Black pants.
Noticing: that I'm a little warm and my elbow itches. 

Thinking: about having 3 roommates instead of 2.
Feeling: fine
Liking: the picture below:
Image from:


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

For the past year I have been way too hesitant to go to the eye doctor and get my eyes checked. In high school I would sometimes "borrow" my friend's glasses or just move closer to the board. Now that I am back in a school, the need for glasses is still prevalent. Committing to glasses was a scary thing and I wanted to avoid it for as long as possible. Contacts also freak me out.... I'm not about touching my eyes. I have a couple friends who work and intern at a great company, Warby Parker, so I decided to check them out. Their glasses are cute, simple, affordable, and the people are friendly (I even got a 10% on my glasses). So I took a risk and scheduled my eye exam at the Warby Parker location right by the High Line. I was given my prescription after the efficient 20 minute appointment that happened right at 12:40 like it was supposed to. Then I went to town trying on glasses! Deep inside I wanted big, hipster-type glasses, but I didn't look right wearing them, so I went with the Summer Green Nedwin Glasses. I couldn't be happier. Once I put my glasses on, the world became clear again. I could read things across the room and colors pop!

Do you need glasses? If you do, you should try Warby. Don't put it off like I did. 

oh yeah, Warby gives glasses to people in need

Making it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I had a breakdown today. I had to leave the school for a little bit and just walk. and cry. I want to blame lack of sleep for my emotional instability, but it could also be the fact that school feels so hopeless sometimes. I haven't hit a wall, but I have to take this work one day at a time because each day is pretty taxing. I love working hard, but sometimes I feel like there is a lack of purpose to the things we do. My students are also pretty unstable when it comes to emotions and behavior. One moment they want to tell me everything they did over the weekend and complete their entire math worksheet; the next moment they're being so defiant they won't even sit down, let alone work.
I guess I just needed to let those quick feelings out. I know I didn't share many details, but I already feel more at rest. 

This verse encouraged me today- "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:24

This blog post also picked me up a bit.

Goodnight, 9 days until Christmas. 5 days 'til Minneapolis. 

A Chelsea Art Gallery

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Yesterday I found out about the David Zwirner Gallery and I was super intrigued. The exhibit I saw closes next weekend so I decided to go today even though the snow was piling down. Once I arrived at the gallery the exhibit I really wanted to see had a 5 hour wait, so opted for the other line and waited a half an hour to see "I who have arrived in Heaven." We were allowed in the gallery for 1 minute and then we had to leave. I spent the whole time taking pictures. The objects are balloon-like statues that change color. The walls are made of mirrors. The lady with the red hair is Yayoi Kusama, the artist.

This is the Infinity Room (the other exhibit). I was hoping to see it, but I knew that I would freeze and starve if I had to wait in line for 5 hours. 
Oh, but it looks amazing. I can only imagine.
Take a Vertigo Inducing Walk into the Infinite Inside Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms at David Zwirner in New York installation
Imagery courtesy David Zwirner Gallery, Steven Meidenbauer, and Rebecca Dale Photography. (via designboom)

City Year Life: December '13

Friday, December 13, 2013

City year is all about spirit and unity.  After any event, class, or gathering we spirit break. This is a spirit break with a group of my students.

Students at my middles school don't have any art classes during the school day. In art club we focus on the basics, but we still have fun!

This is my team! We started out with 13 people on the team and now we have 10. Love these people! In January we will get 1 or 2 new corps members!

What a fun building! 

Add captionI found this in my notebook. One of my students wrote this. How sweet! 

Urban Apartment Divider

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I made a DIY furniture piece, read about it:

I call this an urban divider for two reasons:
1) The fabric on the panels is from Urban Outfitters.
2) The divider itself is from the streets of New York City, which in my book, is pretty urban. 
Here's the story: I came across the divider during a cold day in October. I was walking with a friend visiting me from MN and we saw it laying behind a fence. I really wanted a divider because my living room is huge and I wanted to make it into two rooms so my guests can have privacy and so the room has two defined sections. So I stood there pondering for a second. The fence was at least 6 feet high. My friend wanted to keep moving, but I couldn't give up without trying. A lady came and I asked her if she had a key to open the gate. She didn't, but now she was equally determined to get over the gate and rescue the divider and the table from being thrown out. I tried climbing the fence without support, but was unable to. However, we noticed a mattress a few feet away resting on the fence. I climbed onto the mattress and  was able to jump the fence to get to the other side. I slipped the divider through and handed the table over. Then I climbed back over the fence and jumped onto the mattress for a safe landing.
Were you able to picture that? If not, just imagine me jumping and climbing. I guess I was desperate.

From there I stripped the white fabric from the divider and on black friday I picked up fabric from Urban Outfitters that was 40% off ($23 total). To attach the fabric I cut it the size of the panels and then used my hot glue gun. Simple as that!

Love it!

Hot glue the fabric on and fold over the fabric.
The naked divider


I'm particularly proud of this DIY because:
1. It's practical and useful. 
2. It makes my apartment more "guest-friendly" because it gives them privacy. It also gives my roommates and I privacy. 
3. It was a good value. This divider costs $113 from the store. Mine only cost $23 plus a little time...and climbing. 
4. It's pretty!

My mom would be proud. She is the queen of restorations and DIY in the Anfinson family.

If YOU want to live in Manhattan

Monday, December 2, 2013

.... you might have fun taking this quiz. :) The results were right on with me. Spanish Harlem is the perfect spot for me at this season of life. Although, one day I would love to live in the East Village or Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

For the record I scored 94% for Spanish Harlem, 78% for Hell's Kitchen, and 67% for the Upper West Side. 

What about you?

Thoughts of the week

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I have a tendency to start posts and then abandon them. Maybe one day I will copy and paste everything that I started writing all onto one large, jumbled post and let you swim through all the incompleteness. Sharing my thoughts of the week might be just as jumbled as bringing together all of my unpublished posts, but here it goes!
The Holiday season is here. I love all the lights and cheer in New York at this time. New York City is very consumer driven, but head north a few miles into the Bronx and you'll hear rumors of a Baby Jesus play in the works at my middle school. Hope is not lost. ;)

I like wearing black. Black looks nice on me, as it does for many people, and it makes me look more like a New Yorker ;). This might just be a theory, but today I wore black and 3 people asked me for directions.
I'm currently at Starbucks and I keep looking over to watch two people on an awkward date. I hope it's their first date because the dude looks really nervous. His eye contact is good though.
Anthropology - I could spend hours in this store, but I can't spend money in this store. An outfit would pretty much be two weeks of my paycheck.
*Slow moment* those people weren't on a date, they were doing an interview.
I was at the grocery store below my apartment and I saw those smelts. Who eats those? Why? How? I'm sure Auryanna would eat them, but otherwise they must sit on the shelf and fish.
I loved the Macy's Day parade! It was chilly and sunny. Confetti was all over the streets. It was a struggle finding a spot, but once we were planted it was fun to watch!

It's December 1st and that means I will be home in 20 days. These 3 weeks here will be a breeze. Even if they aren't a breeze, I can trick myself into believing it's a breeze.

Life is good. Speaking of Life is good, I won a $50 giftcard to that store courtesy of New York State of Mind. Christmas shopping!

On teaching

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I read a book titled, "Why do only white people get abducted by aliens?" By Ilana Garon. It's an expository nonfiction about a young high school teacher teaching in none other than the Bronx! She's a middle-class, white me. It has been fun relating to her experiences and stories. She started out with the New York teaching fellows program and has now taught for 10 years.

After my experience so far I am impressed that she has made it for that many years. Here is an excerpt from the conclusion that discusses why Ilana teaches:
"It was the sense of doing work that was concrete, interactive, of knowing that it would matter to someone if I didn't show up one morning... To say I felt guilty isn't quite accurate; it was more that I had become sort of single-mindedly focused on trying to make up to them the things I felt they had unjustly missed. 
That, and I liked teaching. "It's addictive," one of my mentors told me, "because it's so f--ing hard. And when you do it successively, it's a feels amazing."
I couldn't agree more. Teaching is so hard, and this year has definitely made me more grateful for the great teachers I had. People know teaching is hard, but they don't know how hard it is until they do it. This is probably one of the reasons why so many people have quit City year so far and it's only been 3 months. My team alone has lost 3 people, which is 25% of the team. Many other teams all over New York are losing corps members at the same rate. The amount of skill needed to be a good teacher still overwhelms me. You need to be engaging, have tough skin, have lots of knowledge, have great organization and planning skills, be a good communicator with not only the students but parents and faculty. You need to be alert and have energy ALL the time. You need to know when to be funny and humorous with the students, and then know how to "bring it back," as a teacher would say.  I could elaborate more on these qualities, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Pretty much all of us have seen teachers in action at some point in our life. 
The one class I teach is an art club during our after school program. The rest of the day I tutor and support my teacher in the classroom. When I teach those classes I either walk away feeling a little defeated or I walk away with that "high" that Ilana talked about. It's so satisfying when I'm teaching and things are going well. I hope to keep getting better as the months go on.
*Pulse check on my future* this year is a little bit of a trial run to discover if I want to pursue a career in education. Working with students is harder than I thought it would be and I'm struggling with seeing results in the students. I would love to work in the education field, but I'm second guessing whether classroom teaching is for me. I can see the traditional classroom teaching model evolving because classroom learning doesn't work for lots of students and technology is rapidly becoming more prevalent in schools. 

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