Thursday, April 29, 2010

Somebody get me some flats

cause it looks like I might be standing in the unemployment line come July. I've been teaching ROOTS, a class for kids who've been severely impacted by the prison system (they've been incarcerated and/or have incarcerated parents) for the past four years. I LOVE MY JOB SO MUCH. I teach two classes of ROOTS per day (plus a Study Hall), and the rest of the day have time to do things like develop an engaging curriculum, meet with students who are in trouble, intervention/a little counseling, things like that. It's tough, but it's pretty much a dream for me, as it combines everything I'm passionate about (underserved kids, the prison system, art, education, creative writing, social justice).

But as many of you know, California's in the midst of a budget crisis, and guess what gets cut first? Teachers, social programs, services for marginalized youth. WTF?! Last night I stood with some amazing allies & my die-hard boss & one rockstar student at San Francisco City Hall for five hours, pleading with the Board of Supervisors to reinstate funding for ROOTS at Balboa High School. My students are the most vulnerable, struggling kids in the school . . . and they need us! Cross your fingers that the Mayor's office musters up some empathy and solidarity and gives us the money that we need to make this happen for the kiddos! Otherwise I might be doing one of these two things:

fries


prossy

Ugh. But to change the subject to something much more awesome, check out my piece about preteen crushes on author Nina LaCour's amazing online "journal," Chelsea I Want My Flannel Back. It's called Edward I Want My Dignity Back, and it's an homage to my 7th grade crush . . . Edward Cauthorn. :) If you like Mortified and mix tapes and references to the 90's, Chelsea I Want My Flannel back will be right up your alley. :) Here's a preview:


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Born Free

beagle puppy

baby Suri

dirty martini

These are just a few of the things I have to remind myself of in order not to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge after watching M.I.A's new video Born Free. We need to discuss this . . . have y'all seen it? I'm dying to know what other people think, as I've been obsessing over it since I watched it ( . . . okay, repeatedly) last night.

Typically, I'm a champion of anyone who is willing to talk frankly about the rampant racism and racial profiling in our country and/or confront genocide directly. Or anyone who addresses these things in his or her art. I think it takes a lot of bravery to talk about these toughest issues; issues that many people don't really like to think about. It's much less stressful to think about beagle puppies & the cutest baby ever & martinis, for sure.

M.I.A and director Romain Gavras hold nothing back in their new video. They create a dusty, violent world in which American soldiers wage a war on redheads--a seemingly arbitrary group of people based on a superficial characteristic--and transport them to a concentration-camp like desert, where several of them, including the 9 minute video's "main character," are viciously killed. Don't watch it if you don't want to be disturbed by these images . . . I kind of wanted to bleach my brain when the video ended. And then I watched it again. That's the kind of controversy this video summoned within me.

On one hand, this music video/short film seems over the top, excessively vulgar, and displays all of the wretched violence that so many of us complain exists within modern movies and video games. Upon first watching it, I thought "WTF?! This crosses every line I can think of! I'm preemptively mad at M.I.A for the nightmares I am sure to have tonight!" But then I slept on it, and I woke up this morning thinking, "How is it vulgar to showcase the kinds of violence that currently exist in our world, especially in our country, which has a history of things like the Native American slaughter, slave brutality, and the Japanese American Internment?" I mean seriously, it was only in 1942 that then President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, ordering that all Japanese Americans be taken to internment camps.

So if you've seen the video, please vote! It might help settle me down a bit to hear what other people think:

a. M.I.A is a f'ing warrior! She's amazing for bringing these issues to light. So what if it makes people uncomfortable; we need to fight against racism and genocide!

b. This video is totally grotesque and disturbing and she's deranged for having made it.

c. I can't/don't want to watch it.

d. I'm torn! She's a deranged warrior. ;)

Tell me what you think tell me what you think tell me what you think!!! And then go back and look at the pics of the puppy and baby Suri. :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday with Freeman

So hard to believe that I started babysitting my sweet little buddy Freeman when he was only 6 weeks old, and now he's almost 2! He can run around and dance and laugh and say things like "Daddy's car" and "I love you Claire!" and "Hi Mama!" Or, most frequently, "More Gaga!" Here he is today watching Lady Gaga's Telephone video on my computer:


He's so delightful, and I love spending my Sundays with my little pal.

Last night, after a languorous day lying about my house, I made a beautiful summer salad (field greens, strawberries, toasted almonds, avocado, pomegranate seeds, light feta cheese, vinaigrette) and took it over to my friend Missy's house, where we sat on her back deck with some white wine and relaxed and chatted for hours. Nothing like girl time after a loooooong week. I'm so grateful for my friends. Speaking of whom, Happy 30th Birthday Tara!

On Friday night, Doro, Anahita, and I went to the Giants game, where we were rewarded for being among the first 20,000 fans into the stadium with these:


Giants snuggies!!! And since my friend Hauna snagged me an Oakland A's snuggie at last week's A's game, I am, as Doro so cleverly puts it, "[my] own Bay Area rivalry." Awesome. Come to my house anytime for some baseball snuggies and beer. There's even a pocket in the front for the remote.

Lastly, what do y'all think of these Prada chandelier shoes? The verdict's still out for me, but I'm leaning toward yesssssss . . .


Happy Sunday everyone . . . I hope it's as gorgeous wherever you are as it is in San Francisco today. ♥

Thursday, April 22, 2010

truly madly deeply

Tuesday was a wretched day at school. It began with a long, tedious session of standardized testing (which is a whole 'nother bucket of worms), then came the news about our beloved former student dying in a freak accident (see previous blog entry), and culminated with a page: "Ms. Kiefer, please call the main office . . . ." When I called, the secretary told me that there was a former student here to visit me. She sent him to my office and . . .

It became immediately apparent that he is crazy. Truly off the deep end, and a little bit scary. He went on this whole rant about how he'd recently recovered from lung cancer, and if I didn't believe him, he could prove it because he had this absurd "radiation bodysuit" shoved in his backpack. (This is one of many excuses he's had for recently being in the hospital). I'm really sad for him, and it has me thinking about how terrifying it is to not be in total control of your own . . . self. You know?

In any case, my friend Meagan (a math teacher) and I had play tickets that night, but . . . we ditched school a little bit early, stopped by 21st Amendment for a couple beers, and then ultimately decided to forego the play altogether in favor of a night of wine & pizza on my couch. Ha! Perhaps not the most responsible choice, but certainly cathartic.

Between 21st Amendment and my apartment, however, we made a little stop at Jeremy's, home to racks and racks of gorgeous, discounted, designer clothes & shoes. I was a good little girl and didn't buy a single thing, but I did fall deeply in love with a pair of shoes. It's a love unlike any other, and I think you'll understand why:

Chanel

Check out that ridiculous, un-freaking-believable birdcage heel! I almost fainted when I saw them. They were on sale for $319, and I may have actually considered buying them had they not been a size 10.5. I was a little bit relieved that I didn't have the option of making a completely irresponsible purchase, but a little bit devastated that they wouldn't become a part of my collection . . . I'm pretty sure I haven't ever seen footwear so beautiful.

Today I've been running around like a madwoman preparing for my students' big event on Friday, May 7th. If you live in the Bay Area, please come! I teach kids who have been directly impacted by the prison system (they've been incarcerated, their parents have been incarcerated, etc.), and they've written incredibly brave, powerful personal narratives about their lives and experiences with arrest and incarceration.


I'm so proud of them! I'm sure that seeing them read their stories on stage will make all this frantic, feverish work well worth it. ♥

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Heartbroken

by this story.

Mustafa graduated from Balboa in 2008, and was one of the sweetest, most mature, hopeful students I knew. His family had immigrated from Iraq when he was a kid, and he was just such an amazing young man.

Sadness like this feels like too much to bear. :(

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Prom Pics

Prom night was decidedly just as much of a blast for the teacher "chaperones" as it was for the kiddos. But before I get into the night's shenanigans, check out this little gem I found:

me & my high school boyfriend at junior prom 1998!

Amazing, right? Oh, the simple days. Of being 16 and having a boyfriend who lived in a week-by-week motel and had a baby with his ex-girlfriend, who turned out to be a professional escort. (All of that is true).

Fast-forward 12 years to last night's prom at San Francisco City Hall. Gorgeous! My peeps and I gathered at Monica and Mike's for pre-prom pizza and cocktails before cabbing it down to City Hall to join the festivities. Here are some pics--please excuse the dark grainy-ness of the iphone photos:

the venue

my favorite prom shot!

me with my sweet, handsome student JD

the M twinnies looking lovely

my 5th period student LG and his lady B

me with G & D--I love these two!

Gaela with her little bff, SM

I couldn't have been happier to see JH and JD come to prom together!

at a bar after prom--note the dollar bill in Cheryl's dress

We had so much fun (maybe a little too much fun), and I am sure as hell paying for it today. I've spent most of this gorgeous, sunny Sunday fighting my massive hangover in bed and/or on my couch (with a small break to get veggie Chinese and ice cream with Meagan). So much for my plans to go to the farmers' market and hike! Sometimes you just gotta surrender to the slumber.

In other news: the biggest thank you I can shout to Erika at Cafe Fashionista for hosting the most amazing giveaway ever! Guess what I won? A freaking awesome new flat iron. I couldn't be more psyched. Go check out Erika's fantastic blog for all kinds of fashion and humor and girly goodness. I love it!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

♥ Gone but not Forgotten ♥

we'll miss you!!!

Andrew Garcia, my friends . . . kicked off American Idol last night. The day has finally come. I was in some way prepared for it, as I know that this whole pageant is just whittling the days away until Crystal Snidesox stands on the final stage, but I just wasn't really ready for it yet.

(For the record, I think that Crystal Bowersox has a freaking amazing, powerhouse voice . . . I just think she is a little full of herself, needs an injection of charm and/or personality, and that she sounds the same in every song).

Andrew took it like a champ. He showed the perfect amount of emotion, smiled that big sweet smile, and was incredibly gracious to everyone . . . what a dearheart! I mean seriously, he's SO sweet. And I just love his tender growly voice--it's so much more unique to me than anyone else's voice. Admittedly, his Hound Dog rendition was a little eh, but wtf was he eliminated before Tim Jonas-hair Urban? I guess the tweens are keeping him around cause they think he's good-looking. Whatevs.

So long, Andrew! American Idol won't be the same without you!

***

Guess what this Saturday is? PROM! I can't wait to see all my kiddos dressed up in their pretty (or at least brightly colored) dresses & tuxes and walk around the dance floor insisting that they stop grinding doggy style! It's gonna be amazing. One of my students said to me the other day: "Ms. Kiefer, will you go to prom with me?" I responded, "Uh, NO." Him: "Pleeeease? I'll take you to Elephant Bar!"

Ha! Classy . . .

Happy almost Friday!

Oh! And check out Micaela's amazing giveaway here. Not only is the giveaway fantastic (chalkboard mug, Keep Calm & Carry On journal, postcard, bunny buttons, black bow necklace!), but she and her blog are delightful. I read it every day!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TAKE a Napa!

"When you're tired, you TAKE a Napa, you don't MOVE to Napa!"
--Carrie Bradshaw, in one of the greatest episodes of Sex and the City ever: I ♥ New York

The high school where I teach has a funny sort of block scheduling in which we skip one period a day. On Tuesdays, we skip 5th period (the last class of the day that I teach), which means that I am technically done teaching by about 11:30. Usually I stick around and work in my office, meet with students, sometimes meet with teachers/my nonprofit/etc . . . but today, I went to Napa!

I'd ordered this pretty BCBG dress from the outlet store, but since I am never home during the day (I live in Oakland/work in San Francisco), it got returned to the Napa store. Which gave me a lovely excuse to head up to the wine country this afternoon! It took less than an hour to get there from work, and when I got to BCBG, not only did I pick up my original dress (which I've designated for this Saturday's PROM!), but I found the perfect LBD and two sweaters for $9 each. WHAT?!

Wanna see??


hello, glittery prom dress! (BCBG Runway, on clearance for $39!)



hello, adorable silk little black dress! (BCBG, on clearance for $39!)

It was a beautiful, sunny, breezy day in Napa, so when I was done at the outlet, I had one thing on the mind: vino. Um, who goes to Napa and doesn't drink some wine? No one, that's who. So I drove five minutes to downtown Napa and stopped at this adorable wine bar/tasting room called Bounty Hunter where the bartender gave me a few too many tastes--"this one's from an oak barrel, this one's from a steel barrel . . . see if you can tell the difference!" (I poured some out, btw)!



Everyone there was so nice and friendly that I just had to buy three bottles of wine. ;) Since it was happy hour, they gave me a 20% discount, so it was all quite the steal. I stopped at the coffee shop on the corner for a soy latte on my way out, and 45 minutes later was in my apartment in Oakland.

All this in a Tuesday? Damn, I love California.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Raindrops are fallin' on my head

Seriously y'all, the rain cramps my style. Yesterday I had tickets to the Giants vs. Braves game (and being from Georgia, I grew up going to Braves games, and was looking forward to experiencing split loyalties) . . . but it was delayed FOUR HOURS and raining and pouring so relentlessly that we said F it and stayed home.

And today? I mean it's already Monday, which is bad enough, and then I: a) overslept, and was late to my 2nd period class, and b) walked outside to discover MORE RAIN. What's up with all this? Pretty much everything I do is outside!

But here's what I did do this weekend:

1) Watched Fear
I'd forgotten how incredibly sexy Mark Walberg was circa 1996. Daaaaaaamn. Guess it goes back to the bad boy thing. And that roller coaster scene is basically soft-core porn (and it's h-o-t). Here's a pic of Marky Mark in case anyone else has forgotten his hottttness:


2. Went out with my girls (and their boyfriends/husbands, geez) Saturday night and had a few too many dirty martinis:
Saturday night was my first night of post-Lent straight-up debauchery. It started at the Lake Chalet (which is awesome, btw, if you live in Oakland) and then progressed to the Easy Lounge near Lake Merritt, where they were playing some sweet old school hip hop and all in all it was just a little too much fun. I'm omitting the deets cause my family reads this. ;) But I got to wear my cute (and short) zip up gray dress, some five inch heels, and the glittery Juicy clutch that baby Freeman so thoughtfully gave me for Christmas. Speaking of which . . .

3. Spent Sunday morning playing hide-and-seek with Freeman:
"Freeman hide. Claire hide. Freeman hide. Claire hide." So cute. We need to work on Freeman's hiding places, though . . . he's not very slick. Though he IS slick enough to climb soundlessly out of his crib, as his mama discovered Saturday morning when she went to get him up and he was chillin' on his floor.

4. Joined a mix cd blog exchange!
I've never done one of these swaps before, but this one seemed relatively easy and I'm pretty psyched about compiling and mailing out my 2 mix cds to my partner in England!

I'm off to go try and embrace the rain . . . maybe it will be good inspiration for the erotic poem I have to write by Wednesday. Man, have I missed my Cobras . . . can't wait to see Ali and Diana on Wednesday! Here's hoping that after the rain . . .



Thursday, April 8, 2010

Double Dutch, ODB, and My Anthony

I'm perfectly okay with being tired at work today because I got to have drinks with my Anthony last night at one of my favorite SF spots, Double Dutch, and it was totally worth it. Anthony arrived yesterday from NYC, was a champion and took an afternoon nap, and then rallied to hang out with me after I was done with Job #1 (teaching the monsters) and Job #2 (babysitting the toddler). We sat at the bar during Double Dutch's "Recess" Wednesdays, where the DJ was spinning all kinds of classic old school hip hop, and ordered their Recess special ($5 for a Bud and a shot of Jameson). Sweeeeeeet.

Anthony and I have been friends since high school, though we first met back when he sang a solo in the 4th grade play about recycling at Due West Elementary (he doesn't remember this, but I have an elephant's memory. Is that the expression?). There really isn't anything as wonderful & comforting & enveloping & hopeful as old friends with whom you have a whole catalogue of memories and stories. He's here because he got into Berkeley Law School and it's Admitted Students Weekend (gosh my friends are so smart), but he also got accepted to Columbia (and he ♥s New York), so I have some stiff competition. Come to the Bay, Anthony; it's fantastic!

Seriously, how cute is he?


Which brings me to another adorable person I love who is (okay, was) in town: Miss Helen Lee, my former BNF (Best Neighbor Forever). She flew into the Bay for a mere 48 hours and then headed right back to Rhode Island, where she's teaching glassblowing at RISD for the quarter (see? smart, talented friends). Wanna know what a group of us did the one night we had Helen in town? It involved this:


and these:



Who knew there was an ice skating rink a mere 2 miles from my house? I might be hooked now. The ice skating rink was full of great friends and 80s hair bands blaring through the speakers (I mean, what else?), and the whole thing, including skate rental, was only $9. Check out Oakland Ice, y'all. Oh and btw, guess what I just discovered?


high heeled ice skates!!!

OMG.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lane Visits, Easter!, and Happy Birthday Gaela

What a whirlwind of a week. My mama was here till Tuesday, Lane was here Fri-Sun, and Sunday was both Easter (so excited for the end of Lent!) and Gaela's birthday. Lots to do . . . on top of:
a) new roommate Alicia moving in today, and
b) OG friend Anthony coming into town on Wednesday.

I love my peeps, but no rest for the weary, I tell ya.

On Friday night, Lane and I went to my dear friend Marisa's book launch party. Her first book, a collection of poems called The Haunted House, came out on 4/1 (and is most definitely not an April Fools joke!). :) The party/reading was at the Space Gallery in San Francisco, and was complete with funfetti cupcakes, ouija boards, and sleeping bags. Pretty amazing. Here are Lane and me at the funfunfun party:


Saturday involved yet another gorgeous hike, a little tree climbing, and an awesome Ladies' Night at Gaela's (games, champagne, food, girltalk). I couldn't wait to get up Sunday to have Easter brunch and a MIMOSA! My experience with sobriety is over, y'all . . . I'm back on the sauce! Haha. Lane and I woke up and opened our Easter baskets, put on our bunny ears, and drove up to Nectar in Sonoma County for their fabulous Easter champagne brunch:

at Nectar, waiting for our table

my first drink since Valentine's Day :)

After I left Lane with her auntie in Santa Rosa, I headed back to my side of the Bay in order to take a disco nap before Gaela's birthday festivities last night. She likes to keep it low key on her birthday (as opposed to me, who likes to announce my birthday to the world and celebrate like a queen), so we went to Bazaar Cafe in San Francisco to see our dear friend AJ Roach play his guitar and sing. If you don't know AJ's music, and you like folky singer/songwriter stuff at ALL, you definitely should do yourself the favor of buying one of his cds. I enjoy watching him perform about as much as I enjoy watching anyone. He's that good.

Happy Birthday Gaela!

Makiko brought this delicious chocolate cake for the birthday girl

AJ and co. playing at Bazaar

And today it's back to the grind at Balboa High School, the rush home to greet my new roommate, and the coming week chock full of things like ice skating, babies, cocktails, and hopefully a little outdoor exercise. Not to mention, my Cobras assignment this week is to write an erotic poem . . . we'll see how that goes. ;) Have a great week, and happy belated Easter!

p.s. I still have no functioning tv. Can I come over and watch American Idol?? I'm going crazy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Homemade Grits + Down and Out Chic

Go check out this giveaway that involves two of my beautiful, real-life friends:

Lesley at Homemade Grits is my oldest friend in the world. She has gorgeous wavy red hair, an adorable and stylish toddler named Matilda, and makes all kinds of pretty things. Our mamas have been bffs forever, so Lesley and I grew up like sisters. She is offering a giveaway--beautiful little mum earrings--made by . . .

Christina at Down and Out Chic, another lovely girl I've known for years and years! We all grew up in the same home town, and Christina has only become more and more beautiful and talented as the years have gone by. If you don't already follow her blog, hop to, as its chock full of exquisite design and affordable fashion (along with the sweet jewelry she makes).

Click here for the giveaway (2 pairs of handmade earrings!).

In other (Spring Break) news, it was really nice to wake up slow, make some strong coffee, and leisurely catch up on email and blogs this morning, but this is where I really wish I was . . .


Also, anyone have some great ideas for affordable art? I'm feeling like my walls need some more love. Big changes (roommate moving out + new roommate moving in) inspire me to redecorate a little . . . yesterday I bought a living room rug (I braved Ikea, the best/worst place in the world), and when I got home, I rediscovered this beautiful, kind of lonely piece of art I won at an art auction in the city a couple years ago (please excuse the heavy things weighing down the corners):


It's watercolor + embroidery (the "arbitrary" is red thread). This one will definitely be going up (omg, I might have to BACK to Ikea to get another frame!!), but I need some more pieces for my apartment's spacious walls . . . ideas for quirky, possibly mixed-media art are strongly encouraged!!

xoxoxo, and happy almost-weekend! I'll be skipping through the day as one of my bffs (Lane!) comes into town tomorrow!