Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Text that Made my Day

Most of my friends know about my obsession with bikers, outlaw motorcycle clubs, and pretty much anything that reminds me of this guy:

But only a few of my friends are willing to feed the obsession.  Which is why I was over the moon today when my friend Matt sent me this:

My friend Shelly (my only friend as obsessed with bikers & MC culture as I am) will be visiting me that weekend, and you best believe we're trekking up to Santa Rosa for this spectacular soiree! :)

p.s. the new season of Sons of Anarchy starts next Tuesday, 9/6!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Comforting Things & A Hunk

This weekend was a bit of a bruiser.  It started on Friday when we got this bad news about a former student.  Heartbreaking.  This triggered a little existential work crisis within me: what good am I doing if my students get shot, incarcerated, have babies as teens, etc?  It can be overwhelming since we mostly hear about the tragedies and not the success stories.  Ugh.  I'll shake it off, but I'm still pretty sad about it.

Dealing with that + helping out a good friend who is going through a really rough time = need for comfort!  What do you do when you need comfort?  Here are some things that I find comforting:

Grey's Anatomy reruns
my old blue & purple blanket
flowers from the farmers market
bubble baths
Nightswimming by REM

And speaking of Grey's Anatomy reruns, here's a little Man Candy for your Monday a la Leeann's fun series :)

Jesse Williams aka Jackson Avery

I dare you to tell me you don't think he's gorgeous.

Hope everyone's Monday is moving along speedily and without great injury or stress! ;)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Inmates: Aren't they just the sweetest?

When I got to the prison on Monday night for my poetry class, my students had a little surprise for me: a birthday card they'd commissioned from the "card man."  You see, prisons are like little villages--there's someone who does everything!  One of my students is the "laundry man," which means he goes around and picks up guys' dirty clothes, hand washes them, hangs them to dry, and then returns them.  Of course the prison has a laundry system, but evidently it isn't regular enough; thus the need for the "laundry man."  Ha.  In any case, they hit up the card man for this:

"I asked him to draw a motorcycle, but he didn't know how."

"You can't critique the poem on the inside of your card!"


I mean you work with what you got, right? :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My family is beautiful and talented: WEDDING PHOTOS

Back in July, I blogged about my cousin Stevie's wedding in Georgia.  (Southern weddings are the best, by the way; her signature drink was Firefly sweet tea vodka & lemonade!).  My very talented brother-in-law, Andy Lee, photographed her wedding, and the photos are up on his website today.  I am awestruck!  Both at how incredible Andy's photos are, as well as how gorgeous my cousin is.  Check out his site for all the photos, but here are some of my favorites:

All images © Andrew Thomas Lee

Check out more of Andy's photos (of Stevie's wedding and otherwise) here.  Unbelievable talent, I tell you . . .

p.s. Remember my sister Kate & Andy's wedding photos?  OMG.  No wonder they were featured in Brides Magazine and Green Wedding Shoes.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sometimes, it's more about the chase.

I mean yes, I think Ben F. of Bachelorette fame is a fine specimen of man.  No doubt about that.  But if I'm totally honest, the thrill of hunting him down and finding him is just as exciting as the man himself.  Which is why on Friday, after school, I hightailed it up to Sonoma for a "Bottle Signing" with Ben F. and Mike Benziger (of Benziger family wine fame).

When I walked into Sonoma Market, there they were, behind a table set up with Evolve wine.  Strangely, it didn't seem "weird" at all, and we chit chatted about wine, the Napa growers they use (as Ben told me, they don't have their own winery; they have contracts with various growers around Napa), Chop Bar in Oakland (where I first tasted Evolve wine), and Ben's dying iPhone.  How tempted was I to snatch it and scroll through the contacts for any semblance of Jennifer Love Hewitt???  Pssssh.  Jennifer Love Who?

I snapped this picture:

and here is one of the bottles I purchased from these two fine gents:

Admittedly, leaving Sonoma Market after a mere 15 minutes left me feeling slightly . . . anticlimactic about the whole experience.  But it was fun/tickling meeting Ben, and I left four bottles of wine richer.  One of which I opened an hour later with my friends Matt and Monica, who enjoyed the wine, although perhaps didn't totally understand why I made such intense efforts to get it. ;)

p.s. If you haven't read Cup of Jo's post today, do so here.  Especially if you're a single girl.  I found it . . . timely and resonant.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Righting a Profound Wrong: It's Just the Beginning . . .

In the fall of 2003, I lived near the Western Addition in San Francisco.  Right there on Divisidero St. was a small, independently owned video store (remember those?) called The Film Yard.  One night, I was browsing through the documentaries, when the video store clerk chimed in with a recommendation for Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.

I glanced at the case and saw that it was about a strange triple homicide and the teenage boys who were accused and convicted of the crime . . . perhaps wrongfully.  Given that the prison system/injustice/wrongful incarceration are right up my alley, I snatched up the film and made my way home.

I watched this documentary at the edge of my couch, and then immediately watched the follow-up film, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations:

And then I became obsessed.  These documentaries tell the gripping, haunting, absolutely appalling story of a gross injustice.  I started feverishly researching the case, and discovered that one of the accused boys, Damien Echols, was still on death row in Arkansas, and the other two were serving life sentences.

So I began volunteering for Free the West Memphis Three groups, embarked on a big "awareness" project through one of my graduate classes, and wrote a letter to Damien.  He wrote back quickly, and we began corresponding about poetry.

You've probably heard of this case, as it's garnered (inter)national attention over the past 20 years, and has quite a celebrity draw: Eddie Vedder, Metallica, the Dixie Chicks, Neil Young, Margaret Cho, among others, have committed themselves to freeing the West Memphis Three.

And you probably know that they were released on Friday.  I don't even know how to begin to describe how incredible a feeling this is: I feared that I'd never live in a world in which they were free.  Last year, I taught a big unit on the case--my students and I read Damien's memoir, Almost Home, watched the documentaries, and worked on advocacy: they called the Arkansas Supreme Court, wrote letters to each of the WM3, created posters and brochures to inform people about the case, etc.  It was an incredible experience, and they were really into it . . . and I gotta say, I am really looking forward to redesigning my curriculum now that they've been released.

The work isn't over: Damien, Jason, and Jessie were released via an Alford plea, in which they had to plead guilty, while still maintaining their innocence.  It seems to be a complicated legal maneuver in which the WM3 were essentially forced to publicly concede "guilt" in order to gain their freedom.  These men (having served 18 years in prison for a crime they didn't commit) have a long way to go when it comes to clearing their names and earning the formal exoneration they deserve, but freedom is a damn fine first step.

I've talked about the WM3 before here.

Read the New York Times article here.

Find the WM3 website here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Suri's Burn Book

Yesterday, my friend Doro changed my life by sending me the link to Suri's Burn Book.  Many of you are aware of my long-standing obsession with celebritot Suri Cruise . . . and now it's reached a whole new level.

Suri's Burn Book is a tumblr account in which Suri posts pictures of celebs & their kids and comments on them.  And makes fun of her parents, Tom and Katie.  And OMFG is she hilarious.  Exempli gratia:

August 18, 2011

While we’re on the subject of famous Swedes, here is a photo of Elin Nordegren and her two children, Sam and Charlie. This family has become kind of reclusive post-Tiger, but they were recently seen out and about in Miami.
I am disappointed that Sam and I missed each other on our Miami vacations, because I completely approve of her fashion choices—from that fun headband to that slimming belt!—and would have loved to have her over for tea. We also would have a lot to talk about, like having embarrassing fathers and the challenges of having moms who wear denim.

HAHA!  Embarrassing fathers and the challenges of having moms who wear denim!!!  Suffice to say I spent quite a bit of time yesterday browsing Suri's files, and will continue to do so via her tumblr and twitter.  I suggest you do the same.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Birthday Pictures!

First of all, thanks for all the love!  All the well wishes via facebook, twitter, email, my phone, the mail, blogs, etc. made me feel way less nauseous over turning 30.  And it turns out 30's not so bad, anyway.  ;)

My dear friends came out to celebrate with me at the Lake Chalet last night, and we had lots of fun!  I highly recommend Taco Tuesday.  You get to sit on the water, drink 1/2 price margaritas, and enjoy plentiful $2.50 tacos.  Sweet!

the venue

me and Diana: one of my favorite people in the world

Meagan and Amanda on the lake

me and Doro: almost birthday twins! (she's 8/13, I'm 8/16)

table on the water + tacos + margaritas!

Timmy and Trav: a stand up pair

thank goodness for Cari--no idea what I'd do without her.
(p.s. she is mama to Milo and Jude, regulars on this here blog)

a contemplative Raul surrounded by margaritas

neighbors and friends: Diana and Adam (plus Crouching Claire)

Mani and her handsome lil Mateo

flanked by twins: PJ on the left, AJ on the right

We had a blast, although I wish my faraway friends could have been there as well.  Yay for celebrations and drinks and friends and flowers!

Two more things:

1. Please keep my dad's horrendous beagle, Ignatius, in your thoughts/prayers.  He has a suspicious lump and I am sick with worry.

2. Speaking of pleases, please check out my friend Annie's new blog, Tough Little Cookies.  She's finally started a blog about raising her three hilarious and adorable daughters in San Francisco.  Please remember how it was when you first started blogging and go show her some love!! :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Brunch & some Stalktalk!

In a valiant effort to postpone the end of summer, I spent pretty much the whole weekend eating and drinking with friends.  From a dive bar with my teacher friends on Friday night, to a biker breakfast on Saturday morning (you heard that right!), to an impromptu Japanese dinner in Berkeley on Saturday night with my friend Helen, to today's brunch with my college friend, Tara, at what I think might be my new very favorite place:

Chop Bar, Oakland, Jack London Square

my friend Tara with her bloody mary
she's from the northeast, she can't help her snark ;)

ask me what I'm drinking and I'll tell you:


Not only was Sauvignon Hottie delicious, but so was the food!  Tara and I shared chilaquiles & eggs ala cazuela with a grilled veggie mojo sauce . . . YUM.  I confessed to the waitress that I ordered the Evolve as part of a Ben F. stalking mission, and she said, "That's so funny, he was just in here a couple weeks ago!"  I'll catch up to him someday.  It'll happen.  And if you're curious as to whether I tweeted that picture of me drinking Evolve wine to Ben F . . . the answer is immediately.  

isn't it cute in there?

Hope all of you had as decadent a weekend as I did.  Lord knows I'm making up for it now, since it's the  last day of my 20s and the first day of school.  Wish me luck with my '11-'12 monsters!  Can't wait to meet them. :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Back to School Spirit?

Teachers had to report back Wednesday (seriously?  August 10th? Earlier and earlier my dear . . . ), and my summery-rested body has been in a state of shock!  This whole waking up at the crack of dawn thing is for the birds.  And not only waking up early, but plunging into academic discourse about the achievement gap and special education test scores and improving our practice . . . just give me Jersey Shore!!

I'm sorta kidding; it's been great to see all my co-workers and get ready for school, but not gonna lie, I'm missing waking up at 9:30 and being in my bathing suit and watching Jax's sexiest scenes on repeat.

This is what we did after the first day back to school:

(same plan for today)

Other things I'm excited about:

*My stalking plans: Heading up to Napa/Sonoma Sunday . . . but I've learned that Ben F's Evolve Wines doesn't have a tasting room/public "winery."  So that leaves me no choice but to attend this next Friday.

*My latest nail polish find:

*I ordered this to celebrate the arrival of football season!

*My BFF is coming to visit me Labor Day weekend and I cannot wait!!!

us in . . . 2006? 2005?

Oh and speaking of Jersey Shore (several paragraphs ago), my friend Matt and I tweet each other every Jerzday with funny #s about our favorite guidos and guidettes.  Examples:


Got any to contribute?  Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Very Last Week of my 20s.

A week from today, I will be 30, and I'm sorta petrified.

I know better than to let the "norms" get to me, but lately, they've started creeping in.  Aren't I supposed to have gotten married by now?  Had a kid?  Bought a house?  Saved some money?  Maybe that last one would have been possible had I not decided to move to the second most expensive city in the country.

The scariest part is that the other day, I remembered a conversation I had with a co-worker at Balboa several years ago, and it felt like yesterday.  We were talking in my office, and I said, "Sometimes I just feel like I want to up and move to Argentina or something!"  He laughed and said, "How old are you?"  I said, "25."  And he said, "Yeah.  You're so young.  That's why you feel that way."

1. OMG how was I just 25 what feels like yesterday?  How on earth have 5 years passed by in the blink of an eye?
2. I still feel that way, sucka.

Here's how I've spent my summer, for the most part:

With some travel, visitors, good exercise, lots of time with Milo and Jude, and puzzling out a relationship thrown in.  Oh, and wasting a decent amount of time playing Tiny Tower.

I'm not a "bucket list" kind of person in the least.  I kinda feel like all of life is an adventure, and I have continuous goals/dreams/etc. that will span out my whole life . . . and they can't be diminished to a checklist of things I want to have accomplished by a certain age.  And yet, somehow, this coming week is shouldering a lot of pressure!  Last week of my 20's!  Anyone want to go to Vegas?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Man Candy Monday: Stalker Edition

So Ashley picked JP, which I think is fitting, given both of their propensities for whining and effusive displays of insecurity, but my heart belongs to the fiiiiiiiiine Ben F:

He's dark, he's shaggy, he makes wine, and he allegedly lives in my vicinity.  And so, of course, I've put my stalking skills to use, and found out that this is his winery.  Who's up for a Sonoma trip?  I'm not kidding. ;)

link up with Leeann!