Thursday, January 21, 2010


So this has been one hell of a week, with regard to pretty much all aspects of life. All this strife has been mirrored (a bit too literally) by the rainstorms pouring down all over California. After self-pitying my way home from work on Tuesday, I entered my apartment (more specifically, my room) to find this:

Yes folks, THAT is my ceiling. Right above my bed. My bed was covered in rain water and plaster, and some of you may remember that this is the THIRD time that this very thing has happened in my room in the very same spot above my bed. The landlords have been at my apartment every day since then, but have yet to repair the gaping ceiling hole, as there hasn't been a long enough rain reprieve to get the work done. So alas, I'm still sleeping across my room, trying hard not to be preoccupied with the fear that more of my ceiling is going to collapse down on me.

Two of my 5th period students are incarcerated, which has been another contributing factor to my hell of a week, particularly since final exams were last week and, obviously, they both missed them. One of them is a sweet, funny boy who, along with two buddies, got into a fight with some guys at a park and took their bikes. My student, G.M., is now facing 9 charges, 7 of which are felonies. I've been in back-and-forth conversation with his devastated mother, written a "character letter" to the court, and have spoken with the head teacher at the San Mateo County Juvenile Hall school. All of this is incredibly sad, but the silver lining is that I was able to fax my final exam to the school at the jail, the head teacher got it to G.M., and then he faxed it back to me. Technology, huh? In any case, I was grading G's final today and came across this in one of his answers:

Changes I think need to be made to the current prison system should be better judges who are feelingful and care honestly.

Feelingful! What a neologism! That word made me genuinely smile, and I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be and behave in a "feelingful" manner. How much better would our world be if we all followed my student's advice?

In happier news, Ji, our friend Paul, and I had dinner at Trattoria la Siciliana in Berkeley the other night, and it was fantastic! Paul had pesto shrimp linguini, Ji had some sort of calamari-in-squid-ink pasta, and I had eggplant penne. Delicious! Trattoria la Siciliana really has that "Italian grandmother's kitchen" feel to it--the shotgun setup, decor, authenticity of the menu, friendly Euro-esque wait staff, etc. We'll definitely be back.

I also want to mention this new book by young (and awesome) author Nina LaCour:

It was our first selection in Balboa's teacher-student book club this year, and we all really enjoyed it! The book is about a high school student named Caitlin who is entering her junior year in the wake of her best friend Ingrid's suicide. Despite the weighty subject matter, Hold Still really isn't a sorrowful book; in fact, having been through essentially the exact same experience in high school, I'd say that Caitlin's behavior, preoccupations, and mechanisms of grief are impressively authentic. The "Young Adult Fiction" genre is pretty nebulous . . . what is "young adult," really? . . . but it's certainly fun to read. Nina was generous enough to come talk to our book club at lunch yesterday (what a delight!), and she gave a tremendous little reading/presentation/Q&A session. Check out her website. AND her quirky new blog, Chelsea I Want My Flannel Back.

Good luck staying out of the relentless rain!


Cheryl said...

Bal still has a teacher/student book club?! Yay! That is really cool.

Down and Out Chic said...

the author came to your book club meeting? fantastic! you also have me thinking about "feelingful" and if there's one system i can think of that's NOT feelingful, it would be our justice system for sure.

p.s. why didn't i know you have a blog?????????

Claire Kiefer said...

Yes, there is still a book club, run by the new librarian, and Christina, I just started this blog in the new year! xoxo