Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hello from New York City

Having a great (and adventurous) time!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Series of Mishaps

Thursday started off . . . a little rocky.  I woke up in plenty of time, ate breakfast at home (never happens), and had a nice chat with Summer before heading to work.  But, sometimes I can be a little oblivious to the forecast.  So when I put on my cotton maxi-dress (that's too long for me btw) and canvas Toms, let's just say I wasn't prepared for the apocalyptic weather awaiting me outside.

Seriously, y'all, it was torrential.  And I couldn't find my umbrella.  Because of rain-induced traffic, I arrived at the high school just in time . . . with not a parking space in sight.  Literally not within any reasonable distance.  After driving around and around and around, and with the late bell ringing, I finally parked in front of a gate (NO PARKING ZONE), put my hazards on, and prayed that if Balboa decided to tow, that they'd figure it was a teacher's car and make an announcement: "White Honda Civic about to be towed!  Get your shit together, Ms. Kiefer!"

My plan was to teach class (while praying the whole time that my car wasn't being towed) and then run out and move it to a legit spot immediately.  Which is what I did . . .

but the damn thing wouldn't start.  Perhaps because I'd left my hazards on too long.  By this point, I was DRENCHED.  I called AAA and sat in my car awaiting help.   At last, help came, in the form of a former-Balboa-student-turned-AAA-driver.  He jumped my car, and off I went . . .

only to hydroplane across 6 lanes of freeway.  I am not exaggerating when I say that my car began to spin out of control, and did multiple donuts all across the freeway.  Probably four complete circles, from the left lane to the right exit ramp.  At one point, I was staring in the face of a semi-truck heading in my direction (head on).  This was certainly the closest encounter I've had with death, and it was only a miracle that the semi-truck could see far enough ahead to understand what was happening and slow down in time.  He (and all the other cars) stopped completely on the freeway while I spun.  I've never experienced anything like it.

My stomach was in knots for hours.  And I went straight to the tire place and replaced my back two tires. This was the scariest thing that's ever happened to me.  So thankful I'm alive.

And then today I overslept and missed my plane.  But all is well in the world now, as I sit in 24A writing this blog post, browsing twitter, and sipping my vodka tonic. ;)

Speaking of twitter, I'm new to it!  Come find me, as I need more awesome/funny people to follow.

I hesitated for a couple years but then realized that if I jumped on the twitter train, I could follow the Jersey Shore cast.  And why do I want to do that?  To see the Sitch tweet about #GFI (Grenade Free Italy) and to get updates from Vinny like this:

 Vinny Guadagnino 

Life is a garden. Mad hoes.

Happy Friday, y'all! You'll be hearing from me (and Summer!) soon!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Concrete jungle where dreams are maaaade of, there's nothing you can't do--

This week has been a bit of a bruiser, with my daddy being in the hospital, two big deadlines, and working night & day (I mean I still haven't even watched Tuesday night's Teen Mom 2, and if that isn't sayin' something, I don't know what is), but it's all okay because:

a) my daddy's just fine--he has 2 ulcers on his esophagus but it's totally treatable, and
b) Friday morning I'm hopping on a plane to  New York City!

Spring Break, I can't wait till we're united in just 24 sweet hours.  I've been dreaming of you for three long months.

Obviously I'm terribly excited to wrap my arms around this sweet girl:

We're gonna be up to all kinds of nonsense, that's for sure.  But that's not all!  Some of my other besties live in NYC, too.  And we all have a reservation for 12 at Sea in Brooklyn Saturday night:

I can't wait to have all my people (from all different eras of life) all together over dinner & cocktails!  Summer's promised me a late night walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (I mean I'm gonna have to work off the pizza & cupcakes I'll be consuming), and other than that I'm gonna fly by the seat of my pants and take in as much of this magical city as I can.  It's been too long, New York!  We've got lost time to make up for.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Places You Don't Wanna Go: Prisons, Jails, Hospitals

If I told you I'd taught at the high school, met with an observer, had a hair appointment, driven across three bridges, had a phone meeting, taught at the prison, and been to the office where I'm volunteering to pick up audio equipment--all today--would you believe me?

Well, 'tis the truth, and you better believe I'm hanging out with a glass of Cabernet right now after all that.  And the kicker is that I have to be at the jail two counties away at 7:30 in the morning.

Amidst all that havoc I listed above, my stepmom called and told me that my daddy is in the hospital!  They suspect he has a stomach ulcer. :(  I spoke to him today and he sounds just fine, and the doctors say it's all routine and probably not serious, but I still can't help but panic because a) I love my daddy and b) I'm an anxious freak.  Therefore, I've been googling all the things that could be terribly wrong with him.  My sister (the calmer Kiefer daughter to say the least) had to say "Claire--step away from the computer!"  I sure know how to work myself into a frenzy.

He's on a business trip in Minneapolis (of all places to get stuck in the hospital!) so my stepmom flew up there this afternoon just to make sure he's A-OK.  Fortunately she remembered to bring Alter-natius with her, since the real Ignatius isn't allowed on planes.  They texted me this pic tonight:

It may not be the real Ignatius, but at least my dad has a beagle in his immediate proximity.  And trust me--the stuffed Ignatius is a better choice as a hospital guest.  No one deserves to have the actual Ignatius in the building with them when they're recovering from surgery/birth/tests.

Please send all your positive thoughts to my daddy and cross your fingers that Friday (when I'm stepping on a plane headed to NYC!) gets here soon.

Weird news:  Tonight when I got to San Quentin, they were removing all ~1,000 beds from the H-Unit, in order to replace the springs on the metal bunk beds with a straight-welded "cookie sheet" slate.  Why?  Cause it occurred to the higher-ups that inmates could theoretically make shanks out of the "springs" in the frame (no, it hasn't been happening--I asked.  This is "preventative").  This is what the prison bunk beds looked like until today:

from, since I obvs can't take my own pics inside

and this is what they will look like from here on out:

Whew, what a relief that our state government is doing that.  Feels good to know that our tax dollars are being put to such good use!  

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Slow Weekend is Good for the Soul

It's quite rare that I get to enjoy a laid-back weekend.  But it's so nourishing, and I'm ever grateful when it happens.  Here's what I did:

Friday night:
My friend Anna came over with take-out Thai, and we chatted on my couch over wine and delicious food.  It was great catching up with her, and it was also great being in bed by midnight. ;)

I slept late!  Then read some of this:

which I love so far, and then eventually moseyed on out of the house, and hit up the Jeremys 60% off sale!  Bought this little dress and this robe:

Goodness I think that robe is pretty.  And both for a grand total of less than $30, thanks to the megasale. It was worth wading through the crowded aisles of women clamoring at designer deals!  Although my heart is crushed that I missed the 60% off SHOE sale the weekend prior.  People, Jeremys carries Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Louboutin, Prada, etc. etc. . . what did I do to piss off the gods enough to miss the 60% off shoe sale?!  Then again, had I known about it, I very well might have emptied my bank account, so perhaps it's a blessing in disguise.

After shopping, a bunch of errands, and darting around dodging raindrops all afternoon, I came home and stayed in by myself Saturday night, wearing slippers that Summer sent me and watching a movie that Micaela sent me.  So cozy!

Despite wanting to sleep in, I woke up early and ate some yogurt, granola, & raspberries so I'd be energized for yoga with my friend Audrey.  We went to the Berkeley lululemon's free Sunday morning class, which was mellow and energizing at the same time--just what I needed.  I managed to hold my crow pose for about 2.2 seconds, but then toppled over and twisted my wrist.  Eh, no pain no gain, right?

crow pose, from

Can y'all do crow pose?  I can get there, usually, but I can't hold it for long.  Something to work on, I suppose.  My favorite pose is pigeon, cause it stretches my hips so gooooooood . . . 

Audrey and I walked across the street for coffee after class, and sat for an hour chatting about boys and work and all those kinds of things.  I love girlfriends, seriously.  They make life infinitely better.  Female solidarity--can't get enough.

I got home a little after noon, cooked up some delicious veggie curry, and worked on my San Quentin lesson plans/critiqued last week's homework before heading to babysit Freeman in San Francisco at 5:30.  Slow weekends with free afternoons make me so happy.  It makes a world of difference in my energy level.  If I had time for yoga, savoring coffee, and reading every morning, I'd be a much more balanced person.

Butttttt . . . here's to Monday!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday I'm in Love (and my own little tribute to Japan)

I know a  lot of bloggers are participating in the Day of Silence for Japan, but I thought a blog post + a link to an amazing donation deal would be just as productive!

You know, for the record, I love hearing about what y'all are loving, too.  And therefore I encourage you to participate in Friday, I'm in Love.  Isn't it great to discover new products/books/recipes, etc.?  Why yes I think so.

1. Bare Minerals
I never believed that this would actually work--that a strictly powder foundation would even my skin tone & provide solid coverage . . . but now I'm a total convert.  I tried it and I love it.  And since my go-to foundation is $60, I think I'm sticking with Bare Minerals from here on out!

2. My Impromptu Kale Recipe
The other night I was exhausted and wanted a quick dinner, so it was a whatever's-in-my-fridge sorta night.  Fortunately, I had some good !@#$ in my fridge, cause I threw together this kale & brown rice dish and it was so dang good.  

saute minced garlic in coconut oil
add washed kale
stir-fry kale & garlic with chili flakes, salt, & pepper
when it's mostly done, add slivered almonds & craisins
serve over brown rice

3. Emi-Jay Hair Ties
I bought mine at the Dailey Method when I arrived to workout and had no hair tie with me, but then realized I could order them online.  They're amazing--cute, sturdy, and hold your hair well without breaking it.  Try these!

images from Emi Jay website

4. Living Social's Matching Donations to Japan!
Y'all, Living Social has already raised almost 2 million dollars toward the relief efforts in Japan!  If you donate just $5, they'll match your donation and pledge $10 total.  I donated yesterday--it takes just a second and is so effective!  Click here to donate, and let me know if you do! :)

Happy Friday, & I hope it's prettier where you are than it is in San Francisco, where it's dreary, cold, and pouring down rain!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm a holiday girl

Do you love holidays?  In general, I'm all about celebrating and traditions.  For example, I think it's incredibly cool that on Halloween night, people all across America (and other countries, too!)--rich, poor, city, rural, etc. etc. are all dressed up in elaborate costumes.  It's unifying, you know?

Since pretty much my entire extended family lives within a 20 mile radius of each other in Georgia, holidays always mean gatherings, too--lots of delicious food, hanging out with each other, etc.  They get together on Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother's Day, 4th of July, etc.  I am always home at Christmas, but I get nostalgic on the other holidays and really miss everyone at home.  I usually call my mama, and she passes the phone around so I can say hello, but I miss actually being with my family.  It's gonna get harder when my sister has a kid (eventually).

I'm wearing a green sweater today to avoid getting pinched (a green sweater that I got at the BCBG outlet for $9, might I add), but I don't really celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  When I was 15, one of my close friends died on St. Patrick's Day, and it's kinda taken the air out of the holiday for me.  Although anniversaries can be hard, I don't have all the crazy emotions around his death anymore (I mean, it's been 14 years now), but I can't help but think of Dan on St. Patrick's Day, and it makes me disinclined to rage over green beers and glittery hats.

Also, I don't eat corned beef.  And also, I feel a nagging sense of cultural appropriation when it comes to "ethnic" holidays like St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo.  It doesn't mean I can't appreciate them (or want to toast to Mexico over margaritas on May 5), but I almost feel like an imposter, if that makes sense.

But for those of you who celebrate, Happy St. Patrick's Day.  And may all of us be the recipients of tremendous Irish luck!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Catching my Eye(s) of Late

When I have something BIG looming over my head, I become the most easily distracted person in the world.  Suddenly, idiotic tv shows become appealing (ha, what am I talking about, "suddenly"), tasks around the house present themselves, and I even remember that I'm past due for an oil change (um, and my student loans).  It's remarkable.  And although I turned in my mammoth manuscript on Monday, here are some things that are (still) keeping me distracted lately:

WTF.  Do y'all know that my girl is gonna be FIVE next month?  And she's suckin' on a paci?  What's up with infantilizing kindergartners?  I wonder if she'll need her pacifier during her first book report.  Or before prom, just to calm her down.  Or to ease her pre-wedding jitters.  Gosh.

As I mentioned, I'm participating in the lovely Jessie's etsy swap!  I'm excited to be paired with the sweet Meredith from Thank You Ma'am.  And while I should be focusing on her favorite etsy pics, I can't but gaze at my own faves . . . four of which are these. :)  What are your favorite etsy finds these days?

My dear friends, the B's, are on an adoption quest, as you may well know.  And Summer's sweet friend KLaw has created this print to raise money for the (very costly) adoption.  Click here to buy the print and support the B's!

This really happened: On Monday night, as I was driving the short distance from the H-Unit to the East Gate of San Quentin (pictured above) after my (spectacular) poetry class, I almost ran over a deer.  That's right: a darlin' lil Bambi was prancing around the grounds of one of the most famous prisons in America.  I guess God likes to be funny sometimes?  While I appreciated the cosmic irony of this bizarre occurrence, I also thanked my lucky stars that I didn't run over the dang thing.  Not only cause hitting a deer would be emotionally traumatic, but . . . can you imagine a worse place to be stranded with a totaled car?

Annnnnnnnd my Micaela is having a giveaway!  Click here to win this sweet (and special) "Micaela" headband, created by the lovely & talented Gracienne

So, was this post long enough to make up for my absence the past two days?  Ha.  Hope you made it through! ;)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday I'm in Love!

Happy Friday y'all!  I've been floating around school today, giddy about the impending weekend.  It's upon us!  What fun things do you have planned?

My usual lively weekend plans have been curtailed by a ferocious deadline: While I do have plans to hang out with some of my girls (including an old friend in town from NYC) on Saturday night over wine & Indian pizza, the rest of the weekend  I am on lockdown. Like serious, for real lockdown.  I have a huge manuscript due to Justice Now/Voice of Witness on Monday (essentially, I have 45 pages of a transcribed interview that I have to write into a cohesive, first person narrative).  Fortunately, I am passionate about the project and I love the woman whose story is being told . . . but my goodness do I have my work cut out for me!

Onto business as usual:

Here are some things I've been loving lately.  First and foremost:

1. Behold two of my favorite things:
    An NFL hottie + the Manbun

The darling Marianne (who obviously knows me very well) sent me this picture a few days ago, because she knows how dear both of these things are to me.  While I never thought Tom Brady was one of the hottest in the NFL before, I sure as heck do now that he's sporting a manbun!  Oh to be Gisele and make love to that sweet sweet man with the sexiest hairstyle around.  He'ssofine.

2. Chocolate Bananas
Check this out:

This is my new favorite thing.  I'd bought the regular Gone Bananas before at Trader Joe's (a whole frozen banana dipped in chocolate) but these bite-sized ones are so much better!  They are PERFECT for a sweet tooth--delicious and relatively guilt-free (really low-calorie).  I pretty much want to go home right now so I can grab some from my freezer.  If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, try these!

3. Tsunami Love

This morning I got one phone call, six text messages, and a couple emails from far-off loved ones checking on San Francisco (the first tsunami wave was supposed to reach our coastline at 8:08 this morning).  Thank you so much to everyone for all the love and concern.  Things are fine here in California, though I am devastated for Japan as we continue to see the body count rise.  It seems we've had a surge of natural disasters in the past few years, and it's heartbreaking.

Here's hoping that Eastern Japan is able to heal soon, and that its people are overwhelmed with strength and resilience.  

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Deets on my Blogger Date!

You might remember the first time I met my dear friend Summer, and you might also remember the magical breakfast I got to have with my sweet girl, Micaela!  Welllllll . . . time to add a third to the list, cause last Friday I had lunch with the darling Leeann from Join the Gossip!

Leeann was in the Bay Area visiting friends, but as fate would have it, San Francisco schools were out the very day she was free!  So last Friday, Leeann and I met in the East Bay and headed to Jupiter for some pizza and beer.

Let me just say that Leeann is one of those lucky souls who is even more adorable in person than she is in pictures.

(I only hang out with bloggers whose hair matches mine)

(Leeann took this--doesn't it look like it should be in a food magazine??)

(Jupiter's Xanthia pizza sans bacon = to die for)

We had such a blast together!  Non-stop chatter for several hours straight--we talked about blogs, boys, beer, jobs, and fantasy travel. :)  Leeann is adorable, funny, independent, and so much fun . . . suffice to say that if we lived in the same city, we'd be scheduling regular girls' nights.  Guess I'll have to book at trip to LA in the meantime!

come to the bay and I'll take you to Jupiter!

Thanks for coming to Berkeley, Leeann--it was so much fun!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

San Quentin Stand Up

First of all . . .

I will be spending today dreaming of king cake and St. Charles Avenue and wishing I were in New Orleans.  I have so many great memories of watching the parades from uptown, catching the best beads at Muses, sipping frozen drinks out of neon plastic glasses, and trying to find anywhere that would let us use the bathroom without paying $10.  Oh New Orleans, I miss you!  Especially at your most festive.

Back to San Quentin.  Despite my borderline crazy schedule right now, my poetry class at San Quentin on Monday nights is totally the regular highlight of my week.  It's so funny/heartwarming to see the guys watching from their dorms for me to arrive and the guard to announce, "Attention all dorms: Poetry is good in the Education room . . . Poetry is good in the Education room." (Is good = students are allowed to come out of their dorms and head toward the classroom).  So far, I haven't had a single student show up without his homework.  Impressive, right?  And you should see how psyched they are to learn about complex poetic form next week.  Two of them even compiled a list of poems they want me to hunt down and print out for them, just based on their own interests (and since needless to say, they don't have access to an extensive poetry library).

Tonight, after I handed back their homework from last week (which I'd scribbled all over with a red pen), I was yammering on about how I want them to start focusing on the form/aesthetics of their poems, as well as to zero in on the sensual images & concrete details.  And one of my students said:

"See, I always thought that poetry was supposed to be abstract.  That you were supposed to use abstract language.  That was my thinking.  But then I came to your class, and I learn that I should use concrete images, and that too abstract is bad.  Which wasn't what I'd been thinking.  But then again, my thinking landed me in prison.  It landed me right in West Block."

HAHA!  See why I love them so?

and p.s., this past Friday I had a delightful blogger lunch date with this girl!  I promise to post pics as soon as she sends them to me (I left my camera/phone in the car).  Hint, hint Leeann! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wishing I could teleport myself to Texas today

. . . so I could properly celebrate the 27th birthdays of two of my favorite girls, Marianne and Micaela.  Happy happy birthday sweet twinkies!  My life is so much better now that I know you.

It's hard to think back to when I didn't know the Lechuga girls.  I'm so grateful for them!

I think that when God created these darling twins, he thought, "If I'm gonna make someone this beautiful, kind, smart, generous, compassionate, and loving . . . then I might as well make two of them!"

Happiest birthday Micaela & Marianne!
I love you!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kids Growin' Up Too Fast

And no, I'm not talking about teen pregnancy.  But speaking of which, we might have to talk about Teen Mom 2 soon.  I never thought I'd fall quite that low in my television habits, but it turns out working 60 hours a week makes you want to come home and do all kinds of crazy things (drink 40's of Blue Moon, watch Teen Mom 2, spend your remaining hours in a snuggie).  None of my friends are classless enough to watch Teen Mom 2, so I might need to call on some of you to discuss some things with (Jenelle is a monster beyotch who raises my blood pressure, Kailyn's baby is fugly, and please let baby Ali be okay!).

In any case, today is a very special day.  It is the first birthday of my favorite little person:

sweet Judebug

I know it's a little blurry, but it's the cutest picture ever so it's the one I had to share.  Jude Freitag is the most shining example of humankind.  He's cuddly, handsome, he never cries, and well, he's pretty much the dreamiest guy around.  I can't wait to celebrate with him!  And I'm also in denial that he is a whole year old.  Geez Louise.

And speaking of kids growing up too fast, check out this pic that Marianne sent me of my favorite celebritot:

Oh Suri and your pink Uggs.  
Please tell me that's hot chocolate in your Starbucks cup!

My love for Suri Cruise might be unexplainable, but it's steadfast.  Look at my girl gettin' all big!  Before we know it, she'll be spotted in hotel rooms with famous-haired tweens.  I'm getting old . . . 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A few things to know:

1. I'd been whining about my very amateur blog look for a while, and how I had no idea how to go about changing it, when suddenly . . .


If you don't know Erin (and her adorable blog, dailee tidbits), you should!  She is an incredibly talented graphic designer/photographer/makeup artist, and damn does she know how to spice up a blog's image!  Seriously, it went down something like this:

Claire: Erin, I want three columns and a sea green glitter background, please.
Erin: I got you covered.

And she did the rest!  I'm amazed that she knows so much about layout, font, design, which-images-work-well-where, etc.  She made my blog look exactly as I'd envisioned and for that, I am forever grateful!  Thank you so much, sweet Erin!  I am pretty smitten with my blog now. :)

♥ ♥ ♥

2. I love my friend Jessie and I love Etsy and if you feel the same way, then you should sign up for her amazing swap!

You have until next Monday (March 7th, aka Micaela and Marianne's birthday!) to enter.  Jessie will pair you with a partner, and you'll exchange some info: what you're into, which Etsy shops are your favorite, etc . . . and then you'll surprise each other with a handmade gift from Etsy.  Sign up and maybe be my partner! :)  I can't wait to see what everyone picked out . . .

♥ ♥ ♥

3. You should really know about this giveaway because it's pretty spectacular.  Visit Sarah at sadie designs and enter for a chance to win this beauty:

Gorgeous, right?  If you win, I will be both happy for you and jealous of you, ha!

Hope you're all having a great Tuesday--I'm about to pour a cup of dark, strong coffee, and then mine will become exponentially better. :)