Friday night, after a fun happy hour with coworkers (hello, cucumber vodka cocktails, I love you), my dear friend Doro and I had a belated birthday celebration over a fantastic meal at Zero Zero. We had grenache, one of my favorite salads of the summer (heirloom tomato, avocado, pickled onion, and bread), and pasta they make in-house. Mine was full of eggplant and cherry tomatoes and ricotta, and I ate every last bite!
Doro gave me a lovely pair of earrings that I've worn twice but have yet to take a picture of, but even more awesome than that . . .
She made me a genius cd.
I mean, literally, it's an iTunes "genius" cd, but it's also just genius:
My sweet (and smart!) friend Doro took my very favorite song in the world, Nightswimming by REM, and plugged it into iTunes' Genius, which finds similar sounding songs in your library. The result (with some sharp-minded editing) was this:
2. Fake Plastic Trees--Radiohead
3. The Boxer--Simon & Garfunkel
4. These are the Days--10,000 Maniacs
5. Pictures of You--The Cure
6. Tonight, Tonight--Smashing Pumpkins
7. At My Most Beautiful--REM
8. No Surprises--Radiohead
9. Colorblind--Counting Crows
10. Disarm--Smashing Pumpkins
11. Caring is Creepy--The Shins
12. Stay--Lisa Loeb
13. Close to Me (Closet Remix)--The Cure
16. Ode to My Family--The Cranberries
17. Blowin' in the Wind--Bob Dylan
18. This Must be the Place--Talking Heads
19. Lovesong--The Cure
20. Fall at Your Feet--Crowded House
I guess iTunes' Genius really is a genius cause those are some damn good songs. Disarm has always been my favorite Smashing Pumpkins song--throwback to 9th grade--and Colorblind is on my top 5 songs of all time list, I'm pretty sure.
Oh, and re: the Emmy's, this pretty much sums up my opinion:
Today's done a number on me (who wants to have to guide a teenager through a pregnancy test on her lunch break . . . especially when said teenager already has a 6 month old!???), but I'm gonna will myself chipper by doing a Friday I'm in Love post:
So while I'm tempted to focus on all the things I'm most decidedly not in love with (teenage pregnancy, my headache, throwing up my lunch, etc.), here's a list of things that are striking my fancy and making it all a little bit cheerier . . .
1. CHEAT DAY
In one blissful hour I'm heading over to Zero Zero in San Francisco's SOMA district to:
a) celebrate the birthdays of two wonderful co-workers, and then
b) meet up with my friend Doro for a dinner
Zero Zero's margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella
their famous organic soft serve with olive oil and sea salt
Being really strict about what I eat makes me all the more grateful for good food, wine, and cocktails on my weekly cheat days. So excited for Zero Zero's old school cocktails and heirloom tomato salad!
2. FUNNY STUDENTS
I walk into 2nd period today and my student E.M. says to me:
So lately I've been pretty much eating whatever I want, and since my dear friend Anna moved in, I've been drinking whatever I want. Whenever I want. Which is all the time, essentially. I am a little ashamed to admit that Anna and I have progressed from buying bottles of wine to buying boxes of wine . . . YIKES.
hello, alcoholism! nice to meet you.
But seriously, can you believe Bonny Doon makes this in a freakin' BOX?? $18.99 for the equivalent of 4 bottles--that's about a 50% discount! So, I mean, we have to buy the boxes. It's the more financially responsible choice. :)
All of this has resulted in a wine belly:
pretty sure that guy's drinking wine outta that spout
And so, I've decided to do what I always do when I'm feeling like that guy (and I have weddings and other events coming up) . . .
It's kinda the bane of my existence. 1200 calories a day means that I can really only budget one glass of red wine into my day (at most). UGH. So not fun. Yesterday I ate: 2 Morningstar "sausage" links, 2 Quorn "chicken" cutlets, 1 cup brown rice, 2 heads broccoli, a Morningstar black bean patty, and one glass of red wine. Not terrible. But you know what is terrible? My snack at work today:
Help!! Tell me what you eat when you're trying to be "healthy." I'm a vegetarian, but I can substitute fake chicken for anything with chicken in it. And I love vegetables. And for the record, I'm cheating once a week. I can't let this nonsense infringe TOO much on my social life!!
p.s. All this blog post has made me wanna do is plan a trip to the Bonny Doon winery near Santa Cruz. I'm just sayin'.
The only time in my life that I don't parallel park is when I go to grocery stores. Otherwise, city living means parallel parking every day, every where you go. I parallel park outside my house, at work, at the coffee shop . . . everywhere.
City dwellers (should) have a collective understanding about parking:
TAKE UP ONE SPACE! If you are parking on a curb that's big enough for two spaces, and you don't know if another car will be able to fit, get back in your car and drive forward or reverse until you are at the front or back of the curb. Another car can fit.
One of these very 2-car-length curbs exists right in front of my apartment. It's prime parking real estate for residents of my building, obvs. The other day, when I came home and some jackass was parked right smack in the middle of it, I had to leave this little note on his/her windshield, courtesy of my stepmom via my Christmas stocking last year:
The picture quality is terrible because I was in my car and all I had with me was my iPhone and I was mad as a hornet! But man, is it convenient to have a pad of fake parking tickets in your glove box. One of the "offenses" you can check is "Owning a Hummer." HA!
I swear, my friends know me so well. People have always told me that I'm "easy to buy gifts for" (not that their love & friendship isn't more than enough) . . . and these pictures of some of the wonderful things I got in the mail for my birthday last week prove it!
(Please forgive the iPhone-quality pics. With a broken camera, it's all I got).
From darling Faiza, who most would agree is one of the most delightful people around. She sent a lovely golden scarf, a "party in a box" (so cute!), a babysitting notebook (how thoughtful!), some candy, and a card with an adorable monster on it. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know Faiza--she inspires me to be patient and gracious, and I'm so thankful for that.
Pretty sure that any of you can guess who this is from . . . my sweet girl, Micaela. I don't think I've ever known a better gift-giver; Micaela sent a custom-ordered embroidery of Leo, the constellation of my birth sign, a wire hanging of our favorite word ("adore"), a vintage floral tin (which I love btw) with a pretty doily inside (crocheted by Mama Lechuga), a beautiful black & gold ring with a Leo the lion symbol, a Gypsy candle, and a collection of poems (all along with some school supplies for the first day of school). I am so full of gratitude for this precious gift and this precious girl! What's most amazing about all these sweet presents is that they show how incredibly well she knows me. Micaela and I are so much alike. I love you pretty girl!
close up of Leo ring!
One of a few funny gifts from my little mama. She sent me a weighted hula hoop, hoping that it would help with my terrible back. She included a note reminding me of my championship hula hooping skills as a kid, proven by my victory at a hula hooping contest at the ever-classy Panama City Beach, Florida circa 1988. AWESOME.
My dear friend Heather, whom I've known for years and miss terribly (she lives in Chile now), sent this gorgeous Chilean scarf, some bright red earrings, a beautiful hand-made card, and some candy which isn't pictured because I devoured it immediately upon receipt. I love the bright colors in this scarf and can't wait to wear it! Lucky for me, San Francisco is scarf-weather about 10 months out of the year. :)
Flowers at work on my birthday from my daddy and stepmama! They also sent an gift card which I think I'm gonna put toward a Brazilian blowout . . . yessssss. These flowers made me so happy, since my actual birthday was the dang first day of school.
From another champion gift-giver, my bff Tiffany. Tiff has good reason to know me well, as we've been friends since we were 14. See those earrings? Those are pictures of Anais Nin, one of my very favorite writers, and with whom I am generally captivated. I couldn't love these earrings any more! She also sent supplies for my card-making and a funny little hanging pillow that says Please remove your Jimmy Choos . . . though why on earth would anyone want to remove Jimmy Choos?? Thank you Tiff for these amazing and so very "Claire" gifts!
One of my other best friends, Amy, sent two canisters of cupcake mix from the most delicious cupcake store in southern California. I can't wait to make the red velvet cuppies . . . YUM! I wish I could share them with Amy, cause I miss her so much. :(
My Lane--my other half--sent me this necklace with a note that says "to wear to remember true love." Sometimes Lane and I feel like the only remaining single women on the planet, so we have to remind each other that we're not gonna end up sharing a double room in a nursing home as spinsters 4 life--ha!
Oh, Tim Riggins. How I love you so. Cari and JJ (and Milo and Jude) gave me some fantastic gifts this year, the best of which was this Tim Riggins jersey. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am now the proud owner (wearing it now!) of an authentic RIGGINS #33 jersey, which I might never take off. It makes me feel just a little bit closer to him. And perhaps make me just a little bit more of an obsessive stalker freak. Good thing I don't have his address.
Thank you so much for all the love, gifts, cards, calls, texts, comments, and everything else that made me feel so loved this year on my birthday. Here goes the last year of my 20s . . . hoping for something remarkable!
Whew! Today marks the end of the infamous first week of school, so needless to say . . .
1. I'm in love with the Happy Hour that awaits me at Cha Cha Cha in the Mission in just a few short hours!
I'll be here
2. I'm in love with all the beautiful birthday mail y'all have sent me. More on that later. Just know it's made my week so much more fun. The happy birthday gifts I've received in the mail this week include but aren't limited to: the prettiest and Claire-est postcard collage I've ever seen, a weighted hula hoop, a sweet, sentimental necklace, Sprinkles cupcake mix from the famous Southern California shop, a tiny colander, flowers, and a gift card to my favorite store (the two weirdest things on that list were from my mama). I'll share pics soon!
3. BOOKS. Now that I've finished Friday Night Lights, I've picked up an old habit again . . . reading! I'm revisiting Surviving Justice right now, as I'm preparing to shape my interviews into personal narratives. Surviving Justice is the first book in the Voice of Witness series, and is a collection of narratives from people who were wrongfully convicted, served time in prison, and were exonerated. You can order it by clicking the link above . . . it's a pretty unforgettable book.
After I'm done with this (again), I'm going straight to Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games series. (I'm all about teen lit these days, ha!). I tell you what: Hunger Games was so good. All the adrenaline and excitement of *other* popular YA book series, but without the horrid, cliche-ridden, angsty, somewhat misogynistic writing (I'm talkin' to YOU, Twilight!).
It's pretty much everything I love in one: text, love, gorgeous sheets, romance, ohmygoodness. Do you think my interest in everything bed-related has something to do with school starting back up? Ha. Just a wild guess.
Check out my girl Summer B. to play along and tell us what you're in love with!
Other things I want when I'm sick include but are not limited to: frozen yogurt, my mama, my Oakland A's snuggie, Emergen-C, and for everyone to be exceptionally sweet to me. :)
I'm hoping that a combination of these things will work for me today. Sleep deprivation has turned into aches, a sore throat, a slight cough, a foggy head, and general BLAHness. Fortunately my students have been on their (mostly) best behavior so far. Let's hope they keep it up . . . at least until I'm back to my healthy, energetic self!
This weekend was jam-packed, as usual--full of birthdays and celebrations and farmer's market food and cocktails and friends. Friday night we partied it up for my dear friend Doro's 30th birthday at a little speakeasy called The Hideout in San Francisco, where I had Abita beer!! (Abita is a New Orleans beer, which makes me instantly nostalgic). This time, it was a happy nostalgia, because I'll get to drink all the Abita beer I want when I visit New Orleans in October, yay!!!
Yesterday was a typical Bay Area Saturday for me: a trip to the farmer's market (where I got some of the best tomatoes I've ever had), some exercise, and a play written & put on by formerly incarcerated women.
I am lucky to be part of an amazing nonprofit organization that has programming all over the Bay Area for folks who are incarcerated and/or affected by incarceration. One of Community Works' programs is called Rising Voices, which is a reentry program for 18-25 year old women who have just gotten released from jail. Rising Voices provides these women with basic needs, ongoing case management, and a creative arts internship that involves writing and performing their stories of crime, arrest, incarceration, and rehabilitation.
Last night, I saw the final performance of this dynamic show, which was comprised of all the women's original writing and the incredible direction of talented Michelle Maxson. Most of the women in the show had family members in the audience, which made it even more awe-inspiring that they told/performed their stories of drug abuse, prostitution, crime, and incarceration.
I really hope that people who've never had a loved one incarcerated seek out stories such as these. I think that if everyone was exposed to this particular type of art, the world would be full of so much more compassion. It's so easy to judge people without hearing their stories . . . but the love and the truth and the steadfastness that poured forth from these women on Saturday night was pretty incredible.
And today it was back to the East Bay to help my dearest friend Diana (one of the Cobras) move (fortunately for me, she's moving even closer to my neighborhood!), and then over to Helen & Matt's for a pizza cook off! They have a huge garden and an outdoor wood fire oven, so it was a bring-your-own-toppings-we'll-supply-the-dough type of shindig. Here are some pre-oven pics of the ones I made:
(heirloom tomato, fresh mozz, basil)
(pear, ricotta, brie, rosemary, brown butter sauce)
Delish, right? Everyone pounced on them pretty quickly. And sweet Helen even got me a red velvet cupcake--my very favorite--from Berkeley's Love at First Bite, complete with a birthday tiara in early celebration of my 29th birthday tomorrow:
(delicious AND cute)
Hope y'all had equally fun weekends! I wanna hear all about them. And wish me luck tomorrow, cause more importantly than my birthday, it's the first day of school . . . big day!
Today, my Friday I'm in Love post is over at Summer B's, as I'm guest posting for her while she's soaking up the rays in the Bahamas (ummm, JEALOUS). Go check it out, as my list this Friday includes a little bit of hotness, a little bit of yumminess, and a little bit of prettiness.
Lately I'm loving snail mail more and more (so cathartic to create pretty cards and letters, and I love sending and receiving letters from friends), so I recently signed up for the Dear Darlings Penpal Project over at Oh, My Darling! This is how it works:
Melissa pairs you up with 3-4 other penpal-seekers, and sends an email to the group with everyone's addresses and blog links. From there, you send out intro letters to your group, and let the correspondence begin. Here's my first letter to one of my penpals:
I still have two more to write (my group has four girls, total), but the first one was really fun. :)
There's no deadline to sign up; it's a "rolling admissions" type of situation, so the sooner you sign up, the sooner you get your penpals. Try it if you love old school letters as much as I do!
I also signed up for Gracie's Just Because You're Lovely Swap, and you still have 8 more days to do the same! You send Gracie your mailing info, blog link, and a paragraph about yourself and your interests, and your partner will construct a package just for you. :) (and vice versa, of course!). I'm excited about this one, because I love creating packages for someone based on her specific interests and loves!
Thought you might want to know about these two happenings. Keep me posted if you've joined any other great swaps that I should know about!
(And wish me luck keeping up all this writing and mailing now that I have to be back at school tomorrow!).
Okay, it wasn't really the last weekend ever, but the last weekend before teachers have to report back to school. So it kinda feels like it.
My friend Missy, her friend Sogol, and I went to dinner at one of my favorite Thai places in San Francisco: Citrus Club. It's sandwiched between the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park and the intersection of Haight and Ashbury, and if you haven't had their garlic edamame, you haven't really lived.
After dinner, we walked a couple blocks up to RVCA, where there was a photo exhibit going on. Missy's friend's cousin was showing some pieces in the exhibit, so we checked it out before heading to a party later that evening. We all gave the experience mixed reviews: the photography was really interesting (though it was a small exhibit), the music was pretty terrible (hello, screamo!), and the place was crawling with the hippest hipsters in the world. Speaking of hipsters, isn't this funny?
(For Christmas that year--Freeman was 6 months old--I got him a hipster outfit. His mama dressed him up in it and sent me this amazing pic. BTW, that's a miniature plush bike lock in his pocket, courtesy of my talented friend Helen. It's for his fixie.)
We made a quick pit stop at my friend Truong's house (which is an art gallery in and of itself)--who by the way literally lives at the corner of Haight and Ashbury--and then trekked to the outer Sunset to bid farewell to one of my grad school friends, Susanna. The party involved persecco, some poetry, old friends, and good convos, so it was all in all a grand ol' time.
This morning I woke up feeling terribly about having spent something like 50 of the past 75 hours watching Friday Night Lights, so I decided to be productive. I dealt with some landlord stuff, mopped the floors, cleaned up a little around the house, and then sat down and transcribed one of my Voice of Witness interviews (the last woman I interviewed in Alabama). Though transcribing audio recorded interviews is incredibly tedious, it was kind of amazing to relive that experience. I remembered this woman telling me about being abandoned, molested, arrested, and incarcerated, and once again reveled in the feeling that I am so lucky.
But then it was all fun and games as I headed out to The Melting Pot for dinner with some girlfriends. When was the last time you had fondue? I hadn't been to a fondue restaurant since I was a kid, and let me tell you . . . it is an intense experience. So incredibly delicious, but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna have to run a marathon to burn off the calories I consumed tonight. Swiss cheese fondue, spinach and artichoke fondue, vegetable fondue, chocolate peanut butter fondue . . . goodness gracious alive. Next time, I'm gonna skip the main course and stick to the cheese and chocolate. ;)
Yesterday was a pretty magical day. This is how it went down:
*It started with my second acupuncture appointment with Thuy, which was even more amazing than my first. Pretty sure this is going to be an incredible addition to my routine.
*I came home relaxed from acupuncture, picked some tomatoes from the garden, and sat down with my computer and started filling out unemployment forms. I was in the midst of trying to figure them out, when . . . I got word that my job was saved! We got fully funded and I get to go back to Balboa next week!!
*I jetted across the street to get some celebratory champagne, and toasted with my roommate (and dear friend whom I LOVE) as soon as she got home.
*California lawmakers declared Prop 8, the highly controversial proposition declaring gay marriage illegal in California, unconstitutional! YAY FOR LOVE! This is such an amazing victory. I'm proud of my state.
In general good news . . .
1. I got an email from a former friend/boss at Tulane, inviting me to come to New Orleans in late October for a 5 Year Katrina Remembrance event! Dave Eggers is a keynote speaker, and there's going to be a panel about the Voice of Witness books on wrongful incarceration/exonerated people and women who've suffered abuse and neglect while in prison. I was invited to participate in the panel discussion, which includes flight/hotel/meals in New Orleans. I'm pretttttttty excited. Anyone wanna meet me here?
Trying to convince Summer B to take a lil trip home and hang out with me in NOLA!
And speaking of Summer, go congratulate her on her daddy's cancer being in remission!
Lastly, I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I made a damn good dinner last night to go with my celebratory champagne. You see, my mama's kinda famous for her squash casserole. Those of you who've had it know what I'm talking about it. I replicated it quite nicely, gotta say, and made a caprese salad with tomatoes from the garden. (But no, I can't take credit for growing them). Check it:
nothin' like mama's squash casserole!
And lastly, I've developed an addiction, y'all. To Friday Night Lights. It's only been a few days, and I've already finished the first season, thanks to my friend Doro's Netflix Instant Watch, or whatever it's called. In particular, I've developed an addiction to the hunkiest man alive:
Tim Riggins, ladies and gentleman. Tim f'ing Riggins.
I love August, and I like to think that there are reasons other than that it's my birth month. Late summer is so pretty in California--sunny, breezy days, cool nights, pre-Fall restlessness. We get our summers a little late here in the Bay Area, so there are still plenty of weeks of beach time left.
My Nana's best friend Janet is an astrologer, and she ordered birth charts for each of the grandchildren when we were born. Every few years, Janet reads our charts for us, and it always helps me to feel more at ease (i.e. more in control?) to hear what's going on with the planets in my chart. The craziest planet is in my house of love and romance? Ohhhhhh! :) haha.
When I was a kid, everything I read about Leos made me a little uncomfortable; over and over I'd read that they were pushy, prideful, and vain. But over time, as I came to know myself better, I realized that those are exactly my worst traits. Better to be aware of it, right? I also saw that Leos embodied my best traits, too: love, passion, generosity, confidence, creativity, strong will.
From Wikipedia: Leo is considered compatible with same element signs, Sagittarius, Aries, and Leo itself. Leo is considered to be a very affectionate character, and there are often times that the Leo person will appear to physically look like a lion. These signs share a fiery demeanor and are believed to relate with each other on that merit.
Ha! "There are often times that the Leo person will appear to physically look like a lion." Pretty amazing. Astrology books often describe Leos as "tawny-colored" and with a "mane of hair." :)
Astrology dates back to 3000 B.C. I know a lot of people dismiss it as superstitious nonsense, but most of us agree that gravitational pulls can affect tides, hormones, and moods, right? It's not so far-fetched to me that the positioning of celestial bodies renders similar effects. But don't get me wrong: I think horoscopes are mostly ridiculous and totally arbitrary (and written by people who aren't astrologers).
Have you had your chart read? Do any of you put any stock in your astrology?
Because I love it so much, and I identify so deeply with my Leo-ness, I also love pretty representations of astrology:
Originally from Georgia, I'm a high school teacher and San Francisco transplant who is passionate about teaching, poetry, prison reform & education, strong coffee, good wine, beautiful beaches, writing letters, hot football players, jetsetting, deep friendships, creative writing, fashioning an engaging, social justice curriculum, and shoes!