Friday, October 29, 2010

Serious nostalgia.

My last 24 hours in New Orleans were incredible: the event went swimmingly (click here for a picture and a brief review!)--I forget that although I sometimes get nervous before talking in front of people, all the anxiety goes away as soon as I begin talking about something about which I feel passionately.  It was a great crowd, lively questions, and ultimately, I think, a great success.  Here's a pic from right before the panel discussion of me with my two college creative writing professors (so dear to me!), Peter Cooley and Dale Edmonds:

After the event, I hopped back on the street car and headed to an old haunt, the Maple Leaf, to see

There's something really liberating about wandering around a city on your own . . . so many things to do and people to meet . . . but I guess it helps being in a city you already know well.  Rebirth was, as always, incredible!  I didn't get to take any pics inside cause it was SO DARK I just knew the camera wouldn't do them justice.  I (barely) made it back to my hotel Tuesday night, and then Wednesday I experienced what may have been the highlight of my trip: lunch with old English professors.  Oh man--I was totally overcome with sweet nostalgia, and found myself wishing I was back in the Tulane English Department having conversations about Ernest Hemingway with these folks.

On the way to the airport, we stopped by my old house!

Ohhhh 7820 Birch St., how I miss you!

College is such an incredible time in your life, and you have no idea how to appreciate it while you're there.  It's the tragedy of growing up: you don't know anything else, and so you don't know to savor every single moment.  Seeing students walking around my old college campus made me almost impossibly sad, for just a minute, just knowing that I'll never be back there again.

But then it was back to the Bay Area where I got to celebrate the Giants' incredible victory over the Rangers--WHAT A GAME!--and then again last night??  I have to admit, I kind of felt sorry for the Rangers (and for Micaela and Marianne, the prettiest Rangers fans around!)--once they started walking people, it was just . . . embarrassing.

Happy Friday, and happy (soon-to-be) Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thinking of Summer's daddy

I'm leaving New Orleans today; how I wish I could have been with Summer at her dad's memorial in Morgan City this morning.

Thinking of you sweet girl!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Orleans: Yesterday and Today

This isn't some cheesy Katrina post; I literally mean yesterday and today.  I'm only here for a few days, so I'm trying to make the most of my time (which includes a lot of lunches & dinners surrounding the Zeitoun event I am here for).  Yesterday, I got back from Morgan City a little after noon.  I checked into my hotel and hopped straight on the streetcar and headed up to Maple St., where we used to hang out all the time in college.  First stop, Fresco--a restaurant where my bestie used to work (and which has a legendary spicy tomato dip).  Second stop, PJ's coffee, proudly displaying this on their door:

brew dat!

I also moseyed on down to the Maple St. Bookstore, where I picked up the latest copy of the New Orleans Review and some Eracism bumper stickers.  NOSTALGIA at its finest.

Then it was time to meet some folks for dinner at Lebanon's--the local restaurant my peeps and I patronized probably twice a week for four years in college.  I can now personally testify that after ten years, they still have the best hummus I've ever had in my life.  

And then I broke my no-Bourbon-St. rule and headed down to the French Quarter.  I was by myself, so I figured it would be wiser to stay in the more populated parts of the city, so I wandered around Decatur St., Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral:

stopped at Cafe Du Monde for some beignets:

headed over to Bourbon St. where I made friends with some girls in New Orleans for a work conference (we discussed love, sex, and religion) and had (3) infamous hand grenades at:

saw a bunch of typical New Orleans signs such as:


And that was enough of that.  I grabbed a cab uptown and called it a night.  But then this morning, I was right back at it.  We had an early luncheon this morning with the event organizers and speakers (as well as some students from the law school and school of social work), which was nice.  After the luncheon, I went to a very special place:

The Tulane English Department!  It was amazing to see so many of the same people in the building where I spent the majority of my undergrad years.  I then took the streetcar to another very special place:

The Columns Hotel . . . possibly my favorite place in New Orleans.  If I fantasized about getting married, I'd fantasize about getting married here.  There's no place I love to sit outside and sip a martini more . . . it's so quintessential New Orleans, and so reminds me of my time here.  This was my view from the big old southern porch today, looking out onto St. Charles Avenue.

And now, I'm scrambling to get dressed for our big event tonight--wish me luck, as the room is set for 270 people.  YIKES!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hello from New Orleans!

I had no idea how badly I missed New Orleans until I got back here.  I couldn't stop grinning in the cab to my hotel in the Garden District . . . just seeing all the familiar street signs and fleurs de lis everywhere made me so happy.  Goodness, this city has a charm like no other city I've been to.

But first--before I got to New Orleans--I went to see Summer in Morgan City (where her family lives).  Summer's daddy passed away yesterday morning, as I waited to board my flight to New Orleans.  The timing was both horrible and perfect; I'm so sad that I didn't get there in time, but I'm grateful that I got to be with Summer last night . . . she and her mama and Mr. B were so welcoming and wonderful, despite the circumstances, and we sat together and had a little wine and looked at pictures of Daddy Butch with Summer's sister and niece.  It was sad, but it was wonderful to be with them.

Sadly, this is the only proof of our time together.  We drove to Summer's sister's house to pick up some fans (it is so hot & humid here!), and Adam snapped this picture of me and Summer with fans piled on top of us in the back seat of her mama's car!

Well, it's mostly true that that picture is our only proof.  There is one more (slightly clearer) version, but I forbid Summer from acknowledging it cause I had a double chin.  Ha.  

And here's a dose of extreme cuteness--I'm not normally a tiny-designer-dog loving person, but Summer's mama's dog is adorable.  

You should've seen her when she stole my apple slice this morning! 
3 lbs of mischief.  

And speaking of Summer's mama, she's practically my new BFF.  I loooooove her, and we're so much alike!  She's got blonde hair and she loves astrology and lots of gold bling and she is a vegetarian. :)  It was really nice hanging out with all of them, both to mourn Daddy Butch and to celebrate him.  Summer showed me a very sweet video of her daddy--all hooked up to machines--smiling so big when she started talking to him.  He was in his hospital bed and he was on oxygen, but his beautiful daughter was still making him laugh . . . .

This morning, when the family headed out to the funeral home, I drove back to New Orleans and checked into my hotel.  I'm so happy to be here!  The first thing I did was hop on the streetcar and head to our old college hangout, Maple St., where I had a $2.50 draft Abita:

and now I am stealing away a moment before meeting some folks at our other old college hangout, Lebanon's Cafe!  So excited.  More on New Orleans tomorrow!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday I'm trying-my-best-to-be-in-love!

This week has been a bruiser.  I couldn't be more welcoming of Friday, as I can't wait for this dang week to be over so that it can't do anymore damage.  Here are some out-takes from the week:

1. As you know, my dear friends' little brother, Adam, died.  Adam was the brother of Abe (my high school boyfriend/first love) and Marie (who is still a very close friend of mine).  Their whole family means so much to me, as I spent a lot of time with Adam, Lucas, and Marie growing up.  It was so special to be a part of their upbringing; they were Abe's little siblings, and therefore like mine, too.  We spent summers at the pool together, took trips to Florida, and all went camping at the lake.  All of them are so dear.  I can't stop looking at old pictures and just being so sad that Adam is gone.

His memorial is tomorrow, in Georgia, and it's eating me up that I can't go.

8/24/83 -- 10/17/10

Adam, Marie, Abe, Lucas

2. Summer's daddy is so sick.  She is in Louisiana by his side, and she is being very tough, but I know how hard it is for her to watch him suffer.  The doctors have said that he has possibly a month, but probably just days, to live.  And as most of you know, Summer has been through enough sadness this year (much less, this month).

3. A few months ago, my wallet was stolen from my office at Balboa.  I think some kid came in the back door (through the counseling office) and took it right out of my purse.  While I couldn't care less about the $20, the license/insurance card/debit cards/etc. etc. have been such a nightmare to replace.

Yesterday I went to the DMV to try to replace my license so that I will be able to rent a car at the New Orleans airport on Sunday and drive to Morgan City to be with Summer.  Thanks to several parking tickets (believe me: they are unavoidable if you live in San Francisco!), renewal registration fees, late fees (couldn't replace registration before replacing license), replacement license fee, etc. . . I wrote the biggest check I have ever written in my life.  And it was to the California DMV.  This was after I burst into tears at the counter because the man "helping" was so mean and insensitive.  I can't say how much I had to pay because my mama reads this and she is bound to give me a talkin' to if I give her any ammunition, but let's just say it was in the four digits.  

4. Eric went missing!  I could not get in touch with him Wednesday or yesterday by phone, which was enough to make me panic.  But then, I got a text message from someone at his job saying he hadn't shown up to work--no call or anything--and then I went straight into frenzy mode.  I couldn't stop crying, looked up San Francisco County and Contra Costa County obituaries (I couldn't help it; I'm anxious by nature and I had death on the brain this week), and was one step away from calling jails and hospitals when I FINALLY heard from him . . . he'd gotten stuck at his buddy's house in SF, after leaving his phone and keys at another friend's house, blahblahblah . . . needless to say, he is alive, and I have calmed down, but I might still do bodily harm to him after causing me that much stress.

Enough of that.  As of now, I'm preparing lesson plans for the sub next week (I get nervous leaving my little monsters in someone else's hands!) and getting ready to babysit all day long tomorrow.  All before going to the airport Sunday morning. Ay yay yay.

But in the spirit of positivity:

1. Eric is alive.

2. I get to see Summer on Sunday.

3. Halloween candy is in stores.

4. Judebug is cute.

Okay that's all I got.  Happy Friday!  The next time you hear from me, I might be in New Orleans, so hopefully I'll be more . . . chipper. ;)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Braggin' on my Hooligans

Check out what my lil monsters have been working on in class:

After learning about the disparities among different groups of people when it comes to arrest and incarceration, they created satirical "how to" booklets based on facts about likelihood of imprisonment based on race, gender, poverty, level of education, etc.


some of my 5th period students

post-project: they created masks based on how concepts of self-identity change upon imprisonment

I just gotta show them off once in a while.  Since they make me laugh every day and all. ;)

p.s.  go here to learn about what we're reading/studying in class.  The most egregious miscarriage of "justice" I've ever known.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happiness is Breakfast at La Note

First of all, thank you all so much for your love and sympathy about yesterday's post.  I heard from Marie again this morning and, although she is incredibly sad, it made me feel better to get a long email from her and hear how she is coping with the loss of her brother.  All your thoughts and prayers mean so much to me, and I will pass them along to Adam's family.

But I'd had enough of being sad.  I'm not very good at being sad . . . so I tend to take the bull by the dang horns and make myself be happy!  Which is what I did this morning.  My classes start later on Tuesdays, so this morning I met my dear friend Helen at my favorite breakfast place in Berkeley, La Note.  Some good strong coffee and the nutella French toast that I have always coveted (but never had the nerve to order) did my soul well.

pre-work breakfast at La Note

Helen with lemon ginger pancakes at our window table

sometimes happiness comes in the form of nutella French toast

And now I'm home working on my lesson plans, and revisiting this poem by e.e. cummings before I head into work today, because sometimes you gotta go back to basics:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good weekend + sad day

Does everyone else feel a twinge of guilt when they stay home most of the weekend and watch copious amounts of tv (Saturday = Jersey Shore marathon, Sunday = NFL all day), even if you also take care of all kindsa cooking, laundry, and cleaning business?  I can't help it.  It feels so good to relax and be mellow, but I can't help but think of all the ways in which I could have been . . . adventurous.

Nonetheless, it was pretty delightful; both to allow myself the relaxation time, as well as to get a bunch of letters and packages written & ready, cook some meals for the week (broccoli quinoa casserole & "chicken" noodle soup!), do my laundry, catch up with my sweet cousin, auntie, and Summer on the phone, and straighten up the house . . . all to the sweet smell of a pumpkin spice candle!  Oh, and add "got over my fear of candles" to the list . . . I had an "incident" with a candle when I was 22 that resulted in my arm looking like this:

seven years later, aka today

But then last night came.  I went to bed at a normalish hour (12:30 or so?), and woke up suddenly around 3:30.  My phone was beside my bed, and for some reason, I immediately checked my email on my phone.  I saw that I had an email from my dear friend Marie, and strangely, I had a terrible pit in my stomach . . . Marie emails me regularly, so I don't know why I had such a bad feeling, but I guess intuition is unexplainable.  Her email said that her brother Adam (also, my high school boyfriend's brother; Marie is their sister) had died.  She was so upset in her email, and I was so shocked that I couldn't feel my legs, nor could I go back to sleep for the rest of the night.

I have so many wonderful memories of spending summers with Marie, Adam, and Lucas (and their big brother, Abe, of course).  When I was a teenager, they were like my younger brothers and sister, and I've been with them at weddings, funerals, and everything in between.  Adam was always such a sweet, sensitive boy.

So here I am, sad and zombie-like, at school today.  I told my 2nd period students what happened and to please bear with me.  Please be thinking of their family--it's gonna be a long, hard journey.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday I'm in Love!

It's Friday and I am in love with that fact alone (though daaaaamn is it gonna be hard to go to work on Monday, after having this past Monday off!).  But I'm also in love with:

1. Travel
As you know, I just got back from my friend Amanda's wedding in Cambria, and in the next two and a half months, I'm also going to:

New Orleans



annnnnd Georgia!

in that order!  Pretty amazing, right? I'm gonna be a busy busy bee this Fall, but it will be well worth it.  Expect lots of postcards (and some blank ones for you, Faiza!).

2. Bay Area Sports Weekend!
The Giants are now officially in the play-offs (I'm done grieving for the Braves), and even more exciting is that the SF 49ers are playing the Oakland Raiders on Sunday--awesome Bay Area rivalry!  Raiders' fans are notoriously . . . rowdy (which I think is awesome), and this morning on the radio, the djs were making fun of them: "The only thing the Raiders can 'beat' is a case!"  and "The Raiders might as well just go ahead and make their mascot a lawyer," etc.  Which is awful.  But pretty amazingly funny.  I mean of all people, I should have a sense of convict humor, right?

3. Sushi
I don't want sushi all that often, cause I'm a vegetarian and I can't eat a whole helluva lot at sushi restaurants, but right now I'm dealing with a ferocious sushi craving, and I've successfully convinced my buddy across the hall to steal away for a late sushi lunch before 5th period.  And on that note, I'm outta here!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Beautiful and the Damned

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my very favorite photographer, Sally Mann.  I was so obsessed with her in college that I wrote my thesis (which was a collection of poems) in response to her work . . . which meant I spent a lot of time with her photographs.  Sally Mann is a Virginia photographer whose evocative (and arguably, provocative) work is steeped in the South, and challenges traditional notions of privacy and propriety.

Night Blooming Cereus

Night Blooming Cereus might be my favorite of hers, though I definitely think that Mann's work is best taken in as an entire body (and not just as individual photographs).  She is best known for her haunting, beautiful, black & white images of her three children, who are often nude and photographed at their home or in nature surrounding their woodsy home.

Candy Cigarette

(reminds me of Juliet)


Sunday Funnies

And this last one is from her book At Twelve, which explores girls in her town on the brink of womanhood, in that delicate balance between childhood and sexuality.  The photos in this collection are so eerie and so gorgeous, and perhaps speak more about the viewer's interpretation than the subject's intent:

Untitled, from At Twelve

Although Sally Mann's work is controversial--and there are many who virulently condemn her photographs as "child pornography"--I think she's fearless and brave and that her art is exquisite (google "Popsicle Drips" for an example of her more provocative work).

And now in weird news . . . 

And I'm not kidding.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ikea will break your spirit but classic rock will restore it

There are many things with which I have a love/hate relationship.  Like:

this beast



And one of these things is most definitely Ikea.  On the love side of the love/hate spectrum, Ikea is nearby and incredibly cheap and has frozen yogurt and lots of really cute things for the home, such as:

among many other things.  But Ikea can be soul-crushing.  You enter the maze that it is and follow all the brightly-colored arrows through the entire store until you can no longer see straight.  Should you choose to purchase furniture, you have to lift the incredibly heavy, disassembled, boxed pieces yourself, schlep them to your car (into which they might not fit), and then carry them into your house.  

Yesterday afternoon, Eric and I took a trip to Ikea in an attempt to make his apartment more . . . habitable.  We came armed with a list, which fooled me into thinking we could get out of there in a reasonable amount of time, but let's just say that didn't happen and we were ready to wring each others' necks by the end of the experience.  We bought a huge entertainment center, a desk, desk chair, and bookshelf, and lots of little household things.  Pretty sure Eric was more excited about the candles and vase he bought than any of the bigger, more practical stuff.  
More than two whole hours after entering the neon labyrinth, we pushed our carts to his car and loaded it up, me nearly in tears from hunger and exhaustion and frustration (okay, fine, I was literally in tears, not just "nearly"--ha!).  Thankfully, Eric had the sense to take me to dinner immediately after, where I had broccoli lo mein and two lemondrop martinis.  My happiness meter skyrocketed.  

That is, until we had to drag all the million-pound boxes up to Eric's second floor apartment, resulting in my back being nearly broken (I wore a back brace and flats to work today: seriously).  The good news is, we built some furniture while rockin' out to a pretty amazing playlist, that resembled this:

1. Unknown Legend--Neil Young
2. If I Laugh--Cat Stevens
3. No Woman No Cry--Bob Marley
4. The Only Living Boy in New York--Paul Simon
5. Blue Sky--Allman Brothers
6. Angel from Montgomery--Bonnie Raitt
7. Gypsy--Fleetwood Mac
8. Drift Away--Doobie Brothers
9. Who'll Stop the Rain--CCR
10. Running on Faith--Eric Clapton
11. Ready or Not--Jackson Browne
12. Out on the Weekend--Neil Young

Make yourself a copy of that pronto--I promise, it will work wonders. ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekend Recap in Pictures!

What a perfect weekend . . . well, perfect except for the Saints and the Braves losing yesterday.  But that hardly got me down, cause I spent Friday through Sunday with some of my favorite people:

Rebecca, Sara, Anna (roomie), and me at Pizzaiolo Friday night
note the margherita pizza and vodka tonic!

Eric took care of Milo and Judebug while I was out of town . . . hello, CUUUUUTE!
I sang to them on the phone from Cambria

on the left: a print I found on etsy; the artist uses old dictionary pages!
on the right: the wrapped version :)

Cheryl, me, Gorman, and Sarah at the pre-wedding garden cocktail party

the night before the wedding: what's better than sitting around a fire with champagne and s'mores?

On Sunday morning, we drove here for the wedding
The vineyard is owned by Curtis's family . . . needless to say, it was lovely 
and they had special "Curtis" wine

(several of) my folks at the wedding, just before the ceremony

walking back down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs.

the sweet (and beautiful) bride and groom, Amanda and Curtis

me and Meagan at the reception . . .
we even managed to stay out of trouble!

You can imagine how hard it was to leave Cambria . . . 

Cambria coast

I am such a lucky girl to have such fun, smart, hilarious, sweet, and caring friends.  And as if I don't already love weddings enough (love, pretty dresses, champagne, and dancing?  these are definitely a few of my favorite things), they're even more special when they involve a weekend getaway with some of your best peeps.  Now who's getting hitched next?!

Happy Monday!