Saturday, September 29, 2012

teaching love

As a teacher, I have a lot of responsibilities. I grade sloppily written homework. I attend staff meetings each week without fail. I write loving letters of recommendation, assignments on the board, and IEPs. I, occasionally, give fair (and deserved) consequences.

One of my responsibilities is one not listed explicitly in my contract. It is the responsibility I have to teach my students how to maneuver this world we live in. I teach my students patience, patience, patience. I teach them how to take deep breaths when a certain someone loses the paper you spent all night working on, the one you deleted from your computer right after printing it out. I teach my kids that life is not fair, but that they ought to spend their lives making it as fair as possible for themselves and those around them. I teach them perseverance. I teach them informed resistance. I teach them how to look inside themselves and find what is good, what is smart, what is beautiful.

I also teach them to love. Being a teacher is not easy; there are days when my face contorts into the irritable expression my students have come to know as "Ms. Chatti's stink eye." Some days, I am disappointed in their behavior, and I let them know⎯stealing is never okay; cheating only cheats yourself; those words are ugly and not to ever exist in my classroom; you should not have called your teacher a bitch and stomped out. My students know, though, that everything I say and do is out of love. The next day, no matter what happened the one before, I am waiting at the front of my classroom with a grin. My students know that I will never give up on them, that I will never shut them out, that I will never decide they are stupid or mean or bad. As long as I am their teacher, they will begin each class knowing that they are loved exactly as they are.

Our school has just started a Gay Straight Alliance. Here's the video I created to get the word out to the students that:

1) there's a place they will be supported and safe
2) the entire staff has their backs

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

roll 6: france and tunisia

More pictures from the summer! I finally developed the last 4 rolls. :) This one contains pictures from our time boating and swimming in a BEAUTIFUL lake in France, as well as a couple from everyday life in Tunisia. :)

Henrik tying the life jacket strap to a rock to keep the boat still while we swam, hahaha

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


There are a lot of things that irritate me. CNN comments at the bottoms of articles are generally distasteful, illogical political arguments with only religious texts used as evidence get me heated, and Facebook statuses of people from my high school can be pretty face-palm worthy. There are some things, though, that make me plain mad. Red-vision, blood-boiling, fist-clenching mad. Here's one of them. Read under the cut if you wish.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


This week has been all around exhausting. I try to comfort myself by remembering how awful September was last year, and convince myself that at least this year's is slightly better, but it does little good to improve my mood. I'm emotionally drained, sleep deprived, and my mental alertness is at an all-time low. I go home and curl up like some sort of frizzy-haired, Law-and-Order-watching zombie. Not exactly what I aspire to be, you know?

I'm finding it difficult to keep my energy up. While the school days seem to drag, somehow I've arrived at the near-end of September. I'm taking the GRE in October and then sending out graduate school applications in November and December. This is all really freaking me out, but I don't have the brain power to sort through my feelings about it. Instead, I just go, "SHIT," and stare at my carefully constructed spreadsheet of each school's requirements and tell myself I'll have the energy to get started later. The only real progress I've made is producing some pretty good poems, for which I am grateful. Still, though, I need to get my stuff together.

Anyways, sorry for being Gloomy Gus over here, I'm just in a pretty rotten mood and very, very tired. That is what's been going on with me. Hopefully October is more fun-filled and less soul-crushing. I 100% recognize how bummed out this post is, so here are some Instagram shots documenting the better moments of September!

How has September been treating you? Any fun plans for the last 10 days of it? :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

senior sunrise

So, remember how I went to school at 5 am on Friday? Here's the story.

To honor and celebrate our students as they begin their senior year, the school organizes what is called "Senior Sunrise." It is what it sounds like⎯seniors come very early, as do their loving and wonderful teachers, and we all eat and speak and listen before we watch the sun rise. It was a very emotional and beautiful event. I was particularly moved because this very well may be the last year I am at this school, and because this year's seniors are nearest and dearest to me. Looking out at the sea of faces, it hit me that we only have a few months together before they leave to start their lives without me.

I wrote a poem for the senior class, which is included at the end of this post. I don't usually share my poetry online (perhaps I'm paranoid?), but I think I want to start doing so more often. I wanted this to be retrievable by any senior who wishes to have it. I hope you enjoy it, too.


Class of 2013

When I think of the beginning, I imagine
first darkness. How quiet it must have been

all those atoms huddled together
hot and brimming with unbridled energy

craving the space. In the womb
one cell lonely, then two, a swarm

silently changing shape in the shadow
beneath a mother’s hand pressed to the skin.

There is solace in the knowledge
that everyone started off as nothing

bigger than the tip of a pin,
that everyone has known

a level of darkness. I did not know
you then, and maybe still do not.

You who has shed weight and gained names,
who grew a foot over the summer

who dyed your hair pink as the sky
just before darkening. You are different

from the solicitous self that once was
made to march out the door again

and again your freshman year, until
you managed “quiet” perfectly well

different from the sophomore who believed
to know everything, from the junior

who wanted to know nothing at all—
when you were born, your mother saw

the light in your eyes and claimed it
could never be matched by any glow

on this modest earth, she said
there had never been anything

so perfectly alight.

Years from now, you will be someone
unrecognizable—your whole

self altered moment by moment, cell by cell,
the person I address now will be discarded

like a dusted coat hung gently
in the closet and touched briefly, but never worn.

I imagine the moment before light as painful
ly still, but in reality, there is no warning.

The atoms quivered and drifted inch by inch
to claim their own spots in the universe, to become

their own suns. Who watched the first
rising of the violently burning body

and deemed it beautiful? We know
the last sense developed before birth

is sight, your body suspended in the body
of your mother realizing there is still more.

Light crested over the dome of mother
earth, dawn soft and inevitable as breath.

The moment before seeing,
dark was so familiar, but then at once you saw

and you could not look away, you could not.

© Leila Chatti 2012. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 7, 2012

roll 5: tunisia and new york

Holy moly, I'm tired! Today I headed to school at 5 am, but I won't tell you why just yet! Just know that I am officially brain dead.

Luckily, posting pictures requires little effort, so here's another roll of film, this one from Tunisia and New York City. Look at how beautiful my family is. :)

(tunisian tea!)

Oh, and for the chuckles, here are some photo-whoopsies.

creepy criminal looking photo of Henrik and Ian...


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

thrift shop

As most of you know, I love to thrift. My outfit posts may be somewhat misleading with the list beneath of where my clothing items are from⎯nearly all of my American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and H&M goodies have been purchased second hand as well! I very rarely shell out money at an actual store, and when I do, I stick pretty exclusively to the sales racks. I'm cheap, what can I say!

So, basically every weekend, I go thrifting. I'm trying to purchase fewer items when I go, but I still keep up the frequency of my visits because I really just love the experience. Call me crazy. ;) This past weekend, I ventured into San Francisco for my thrifting fix. There was a Labor Day sale at Thrift Town and I couldn't pass up a sale on already cheap clothing, could I?! I generally prefer the San Leandro Thrift Town because it's closer to Oakland and the vibe is more relaxed, but I figured I would mix it up a bit and BART over to San Fran. I accidentally came an hour early, so Henrik and I wandered around the Mission and found a coffee place that was open and was not Starbucks.

Luckily I don't need that last book. ;) After Thrift Town, Henrik headed to work and I mosied over to Mission Thrift. Mission Thrift is one of my favorite places to thrift in the Bay. The prices are very reasonable for San Fran vintage and I usually walk away with something I'm really excited about. Everything is organized by style/era, which makes finding an item quickly a breeze. Plus, the people are super chill and friendly.

All in all, a great thrifting adventure! Here are my favorite finds from that day.

And, on the topic of thrifting, here is an a-maz-ing song I discovered yesterday. Perfection.

"I wear your granddad's clothes. I look incredible."
Preach! ;)


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